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How Do Termites Eat Wood?

How Do Termites Eat Wood?

For our blog this week, we decided to pass on some information about the dietary habits of one of the most destructive pests in Georgia – the termite.

Now, it is no secret that this social insect enjoys a meal most when it consists of dead (preferably rotting) wood. Any homeowner unfortunate enough to experience an infestation of these swarming insects knows just how vast their appetite is for wood structures. But why would such a successful insect species dine almost exclusively on wood? Why not fruit? Why not meat? The answer lies in the termite’s appreciable digestive tract, within which is contained a symbiotic relationship whose efficiency rivals that of any relationship in nature.

Within a termite’s gut, a colony of organisms (protists or bacteria, depending on the species of termite) exists with the sole purpose of digesting cellulose, the main ingredient of plant matter. Without these organisms, termites would be unable to metabolize their woody meals, and they would have to rely on some other food source to survive.


Termite Digestive System

After digesting the cellulose, these fed microbes expel the now-termite-digestible components of the molecule for the termite to consume. Thus, the termite serves the microbes by foraging for the plant matter, and the microbes serve the termite by converting (digesting) the cellulose into a usable form.

While a perfect example of mutualism (you scratch my back, I scratch yours) is a beautiful thing to see in nature, the resulting destruction is something many people have to deal within their home or office. If you are currently experiencing a problem with termites or any other pests, call us now at (912)-236-5135 and we will send one of our registered technicians to take care of the problem. Thank you for making Preferred Pest Control your Pest Management Company in the Savannah, Georgia area!