We receive questions from customers all the time, even the youngest of customers. Recently, Maxwell G. of Phoenix, aged seven, asked, “Why do termites eat wood?”
Termites are one of the most damaging natural pests that can invade your home.
Termites colonize approximately 600,000 homes and cause an estimated $5 billion in damage each year to homes in the United States alone.
One reason termites are dangerous to your home is the fact they can go unnoticed—in some cases, for years on end.
Termites love the dark, humid, warm, and woody places in our homes where we don’t often venture such as our attics, under wooden decks and porches, and basements.
They can also live and chew away completely unnoticed inside of the walls of our homes, leaving no signs of a problem at all.
The Diet of a Termite
Well, first things first, a termite’s specific goal in life isn’t to colonize houses and buildings and eat away at their framework. Believe it or not, termites play a vital role in nature.
What we label as pests are good for our environment (just not for your home). They go after dead and decaying plant matter such as tree stumps, fallen branches, and dead trees. Without termites, dead trees would take much longer to decay completely.
The reason termites attack your home is that termites can’t tell the difference between a dead tree and your house! To them, it’s a tasty pile of wood where they can grow their own family.
Homes are an excellent source of cellulose, which is a termite’s main diet. The wood in your attic and walls is a great source of cellulose. These all provide the nutrients to keep termites happy.
When termites colonize a home or a fallen tree, it’s the worker termites that attack the wood to process and digest the cellulose inside of the wood into sugars and nutrients. They then pass on the digested cellulose to the soldiers, reproductives, and immature termites in the colony to eat.
The amount of wood one termite can eat per day is extremely minimal and insignificant; it amounts to almost nothing.
However, if you take into account that termite colony sizes can range into the millions, then it vastly increases the amount of wood eaten per day. Even if a colony of termites overtakes your house or building, it might take weeks or even months for them to cause significant damage.
Usually, a home or a tree stump in nature will have only one termite colony. Termite colonies do not intermingle with each other.
Termites are not especially unfriendly toward other termite colonies, and they do not go out looking for trouble with other colonies or invade other colonies.
But termites are territorial to their colony. If a termite from a different colony infiltrates another colony, soldier termites will kill it immediately.
The good news here (if there is any good news related to termites) is unlikely you’ll have to deal with more than one colony on your property.
If You Have Termites
Thanks to Maxwell for the great question. If you have questions about Arizona pests, their habits, the damage they cause, and how to get rid of them, we encourage you to call us.
We’re always available to answer your questions.
If you believe you may have termites that have confused your home for a big piece of wood, there’s no time to wait.
Colonies can grow quickly, and even though one little guy won’t eat much, he and all his friends can cause damage to your home in short order.
Call us today at 602-253-2495 or contact us to schedule your inspection and get on the road to termite elimination.