Do Subterranean Termites Eat Wood

Do Subterranean Termites Eat Wood

Published On: January 8, 2023|By |

Subterranean termites are among the most dangerous pests to have in your home. Because of their diets, they can cause a great deal of harm. Termites primarily consume wood and can find plenty of it in human settlements. But why do termites prefer wood to feed on?

What Exactly Are Subterranean Termites?

Underground termites are the most destructive type of termite. These termites construct elaborate underground networks, or “mud tubes,” to get to their food and keep the elements out. They consume wood around the clock, every day of the week, by biting off tiny pieces with their saw-toothed jaws. Termites that live underground can do severe damage to a building over time, eventually leading to its collapse.

Why Do Termites Consume Wood?

Termites consume wood to obtain the cellulose and nutrients they require to survive. Because of the protozoa and bacteria in their digestive systems, termites are able to digest the cellulose fibers in wood, which are indigestible to most other organisms. These organisms convert cellulose fibers into a nutritious meal, giving termites access to a food source that other species largely ignore.

One distinctive feature of termite behavior is that they never stop eating, even after establishing themselves in your home. To feed their ever-expanding colonies, they will consume anything containing cellulose. In short, if you have a termite infestation, more than just the structure of your home is at stake. Your furniture and personal belongings may also be at risk.

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Wood-Eating Subterranean Termite

Subterranean termites have preferences for the wood they consume. Decayed wood is consumed more quickly and is preferred over sound wood. Termites also help decay by increasing the moisture content of the wood. Termite damage is usually associated with decaying wood. Each day, subterranean termites consume approximately 2 – 3 percent of their body weight in wood.

A mature colony of eastern subterranean termites has between 60,000 and 1 million workers. Under ideal conditions, a colony of 60,000 would consume approximately 5 grams of wood per day. A colony would consume a 1-foot length of 2 by four pine in about 118 days. Termites’ digestive tracts contain one-celled organisms that convert cellulose into substances that termites can digest.

What Types Of Wood Are Not Eaten By Termites?

Termites prefer to feed on the cellulose found in other types of wood and are less attracted to certain types of wood. Termites do not like the following types of wood:

  • Heartwood (the central layer of cedar wood). However, termites will eat through the outer layers of cedarwood in order to consume cellulose.
  • Pressure-treated plywood and lumber
  • Teak
  • Redwood
  • Bamboo
  • Cypress
  • Cedar


Termites wreak havoc and eat away at homes. One in three households will be impacted, so prevention is crucial. A yearly termite inspection can provide peace of mind and help keep your home termite-free. We inspect, monitor, and bait for termites at The Pest Bros. We have the experience and expertise you need to ensure that your home and family are not harmed. To learn more, please contact us today.

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