Termites are detritivores (also known as detritus feeders), needing water, cellulose, and shelter to survive. Cellulose is an organic fiber found in wood and plant matter. They dine on the cellulose, the best source of nutrition for their dietary requirements, absorbing both the moisture and nutrients. Our homes have ample supplies of dead wood for a termite colony to feed on.
They can survive solely on water, but cellulose provides them with the nutrients they require.
These wood destroying insects do not discriminate about the type of wood they devour, as long as the wood is dead. Although the majority of species prefer dead wood, some termites feed on living trees. Equipped with unique mouthparts that can break through the wood and microorganisms that allow them to digest cellulose, termites rarely have competition for their choice of food because wood is difficult to consume and digest. Not only do termites eat wood, but numerous species also live inside the wood, making food sources readily available. In addition to wood, which makes up the majority of the pests’ diet, termites also consume leaves, bark, paper, cardboard, plastic, drywall, and anything that is made of plant materials. Immature termites that do not yet have the microorganisms to break down cellulose in their stomachs, soldiers, and reproductives are fed by workers. Worker termites transmit the cellulose-turned-sugar substance through a mouth-to-mouth feeding process.