We all know that termites love chewing their way through wood. In fact, hungry termites cause billions of dollars in private property damage across the United States each year. Urban legends and media portrayals often show termites chewing through a wide variety of other substances, including concrete! Can termites chew through concrete and other materials? Is anything safe from their unquenchable appetites? Let’s find out.
Cellulose – The Termite Food of Choice
The reason that termites are known for chowing down on wooden furniture, wooden decks, wooden bannisters, and pretty much any other wooden structure in your home is because their food of choice is cellulose. Cellulose is an organic compound found in plants, including wood. This is the only thing subterranean and drywood termites eat, though it is not the only thing they can chew through. Termites are known for burrowing through a wide variety of materials to create tunnels and to access new sources of cellulose.
Termites Can Chew Through Drywall
Though a termite is very small (roughly the size of an ant), its mandibles are impressively strong. A termite can (and will) chew through anything that is softer than its mandibles, especially in search of food. This includes drywall, plastic, and even thin sheets of lead. Homeowners often don’t think to look for termites in drywall, but termite inspectors know better!
Can Termites Chew Through Concrete?
Despite popular belief, termites cannot actually chew through concrete, but concrete hardly represents an obstacle for termites. These guys are so small that they can fit through a crack the width of an edge of a business card. Though concrete may seem completely solid, micro-cracks form as it dries. Termites take full advantage of these cracks, using them as tunnels through the concrete. You may think that because your home sits on a concrete base that termites won’t find their way through. Think again.
Subterranean and drywood termites can chew or sneak through just about anything, which is why it’s important to contact a pest control company if you even suspect termite damage. If you live in San Diego or San Diego County, contact Best-Rate Termite to schedule a termite inspection.