what Do Termites Actually Eat?

September 10th,  2018


Their voracious appetite is responsible for thousands of dollars of home damage a year, and they have no signs of stopping anytime soon. Termites are some of the worst, most maligned pests you could possibly find in your home. And while you may know that they're after the wood that frames and stabilizes your home, they're actually craving something different. Some termites actually want nothing to do with your house at all.


Pest control companies in St. Augustine have noticed some common misinformation about termites. They're here to tell you some surprising information about what termites eat, why they eat it, and how pest control services can protect your home from these terrible pests.

What's for Dinner?

Termites don't technically eat wood, or not exactly, anyway. They're only after a specific component of wood: cellulose. Cellulose is a common plant compound, one that acts as the structural building blocks of plants. When termites hunt for wood, they're really after the cellulose inside it.

Why Cellulose?

Cellulose gives termites the nutrition that they need to live. Oddly enough, they can't naturally break down cellulose. Special organisms in their digestive tracts help break down plant fibers. The other, undigested components of wood are released as waste.


Cellulose isn't just in plywood or lumber, either. They can find cellulose in living plants, paper products, and even clothing. However, certain termites prefer the valuable wood used for home construction.

Drywood Termites

Not all termites are after cellulose inside your home. In fact, dampwood termites are a species of termite that prefers to eat tree stumps and other outdoor plant remains. These termites are actually helpful to the ecosystem, as they break down dead plant life to encourage the growth of new, living plants. They're rarely found infesting homes.


Drywood termites, on the other hand, prefer dry and dead wood to the wood found out in nature. Your home is full of this type of wood. These are the termites that you need to worry about. Slightly resembling ants with transparent-looking, white bodies, drywood termites leave smooth grooves in wood as they break it down to consume its cellulose.


If you're asking yourself, "Where can I find termite pest control near me?" you can start by researching pest control companies in St. Augustine. Professionals can identify the signs of termite activity, protect unaffected homes from future infestations, and treat homes that are currently plagued with hungry termites.