Why is it that with millions of different organisms on Earth, and all the different things they eat to survive, that termites eat wood? As it turns out, termites do not technically eat wood, rather they are seeking the cellulose inside of wood to obtain their food. Termites have even found a way to eat drywall, as many people can attest. Despite the fact that drywall is mostly gypsum, termites target the heavy paper that holds the product together, which contains plenty of cellulose. This is why books, cardboard boxes, and anything else with a paper component, are highly sought after by termites and susceptible to damage.
So how do termites turn paper or cellulose into energy?
Termites have a specialized protozoa (think of protozoa as a single cell, animal like structure) in their stomachs. These protozoa have developed the ability to take the cellulose in wood and turn it into energy for the termite. It is this partnership between the termite and the protozoa that permits the termites to utilize wood as a food source.
It is actually a good thing that termites have dedicated themselves to their unique diet. Without termites our environment would be a mess. Termites, as it turns out, are the original recyclers. When trees fall, cacti die and plants containing cellulose expire, termites step in and speed the breakdown of these products, clearing the land for the next generation of life. If it were not for termites and other wood destroying organisms, wood would literally be stacking up all around us.
What wood we do them?
Learn more about termites:
Wood You Like To Be My Neighbor
5 Ways to Tell if You Have Termites
Subterranean Termite Treatment Products
10 Things You Must Know About Termites In Arizona
What Can Homeowners Do to Prevent Termites?