There are many false theories in regards to termites. Some of these theories are a harmless misconception. For example, despite being referred to as ‘white ants,’ termites are in fact more closely related to cockroaches. But, for every innocent white lie, some theories lull people into a false sense of security.
One of the most widespread and dangerous false claims is that termites don’t eat hardwood.
Before we get started, let’s put this theory to bed: it’s not true. Here’s why, and how believing otherwise can put your hardwood home at risk of major damage.
Understanding the difference between hardwood and softwood
Australia is home to a variety of hardwood tree species. Some of the most popular include Blackbutt, Ironbark, Red Mahogany, and Turpentine, to name a few. These are often used as material to construct different elements found in homes and businesses – including hardwood walls and flooring, outdoor decking, stairways, etc.
Now, despite the term ‘hardwood,’ this doesn’t mean hardwood is immediately tougher than softwood. In fact, the distinction between the two is purely botanical, referring to their visual appearance and produce enclosed inside, as opposed to strength.
Why termites do eat hardwood
The truth is, most termites – regardless of their species or role – can feed on virtually any wooden item found inside and outside your home. Yes, that means termites can eat hardwood. That’s because all wood is made up of cellulose, a naturally occurring compound and organic substance that gives structure to plants.
When termites feed on cellulose within the wood, they don’t actually digest the wood. Instead, the microorganisms living inside the termites digestive system (protozoa) breaks down the wood inside them, producing by-products that the termite can safely digest.
So, whether it’s your door or window frames, hardwood walls or flooring, wooden support beams, or outdoor decking; virtually all wood is fair game.
Do any termites not eat hardwood?
As a matter of fact, yes. There are some termite species which cannot properly digest hardwood. For example, the Heterotermes, a subterranean species of termite, can only digest softwood. However, on the other hand, some species of termites love hardwood. These include Coptotermes, Schedorhinotermes and the Nasutitermes, which have a long, special snout designed specifically to destroy hardwood.
When to call the experts
Of course, the big takeaway from this is: Unless you’re an expert at identifying termites, you won’t know what you’re dealing with. For this reason, if you uncover any signs of a termite infestation, you should talk to a licensed pest expert.
By drawing from years of knowledge and experience dealing with termites, they can identify the correct species of termite. And, by using non-intrusive methods, they can inspect your property – inside and out – without risk of causing the termites to panic and relocate. Plus, they will reveal any damage the termites have caused so far.
From there, your pest expert can propose a custom treatment plan to get rid of the current infestation – and protect your home from future attacks.
Concerned about termites attacking your hardwood home? Book a termite inspection with All Bugs today.