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How Are Termites Able to Eat Wood?

Posted on March 12th, 2018 by Knockout Pest

termites eat wood because of what's in their stomach

We all know how terrible termite infestations can be.

They cause nothing but damage and could cost you thousands of dollars in repairs. Not too mention how difficult they can be to remove from your home or business without the help of a local pest control company.

But there’s one thing a lot of people wonder when they see or hear about termites — how are they able to eat and digest wood?

The Termite Gut

The reason termites are able to eat and digest wood is because of their gut. The microorganisms found in the gut of a termite have not been seen in any other animal, which means it is completely unique to the termite.

There are over 5,000 different species of microbe (AKA the microorganisms) in the gut, each with thousands of copies. These many species of microbe work to digest the wood they eat and the air they breathe, turning the final product into sugar and protein.

Why So Many Microbes?

You may be wondering why each termite has so many different species of microbe in their gut if they all work to digest their food?

It’s still unknown what each microbe’s job is, so this is something that has left many scientists scratching their heads.

It is known that termites eat many different types of wood, which means they need many different microbes to help break down each one. On top of that, they aren’t limited to eating just wood — they also consume soil, grass, leaf litter, and soil.

Termites Eat Each Other

Termites work together when they’re in the same colony. On the other hand, when termites of two different colonies meet each other near a piece of wood, they will fight each other till death!

Soldier termites (and sometimes workers) will fight each other, with the loser being cut open and having its guts ingested by the winner. The winning termite will now have new microbes introduced into its gut.

Learning more about termites is important. Because in order to defeat your enemy, you must know your enemy.

And if you need help defeating your enemy, we can help you — because we know them better than anyone!

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