Termites are most commonly associated with eating wood but that’s not exactly their food of choice. The dining choice for termites is cellulose, the main component of plant cell walls and vegetable fibers. While wood contains cellulose, it isn’t their only food source. When wood isn’t available, they will eat plant material including paper and cardboard too.
What do Termites Need to Survive?
Even in the Phoenix desert, termites can be a problem. They need moisture, warmth, and food to survive so when there is a particularly rainy season, they multiply. A colony doesn’t know fences or other boundaries and will span across yards causing damage to homes and gardens.
The Dirty Truth
While termites can eat nearly all materials containing cellulose, they won’t receive nutrition unless they have a symbiotic organism living in their gut. Bacteria, fungi, and protozoa break down cellulose and then the termite receives its nutrition. Their mandible (jaw) can chew through different types of materials including drywall, foam, and plastics, making them quite destructive.
What to do if you Suspect an Infestation
Termites cause billions of dollars of damage to homes in the U.S. every year making it important to inspect your home and call a professional if you suspect a termite infestation. Here’s what you can do on your own:
- Check moisture around the home including under sinks, around toilets, and near hoses and pool equipment for signs of an infestation and other pests.
- Talk to your neighbors. If they have termites, you might have them too.
- Inspect the inside and outside of your home for warning signs including mud tubes.
If you suspect a termite infestation or other pests around your Phoenix home, take care of the problem!