What Wood Termites Do Not Eat?

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Termites feed on wood. However, not all types of wood are palatable to them. Here’s a complete guide on what wood termites do not eat. There are certain types of wood that they will not eat, which can help prevent an infestation.

Identifying what these woods are is important to take the necessary precautions to protect your home or property. However, there are different types of wood that are termite-resistant and can help you protect your home. 

How do Termites Eat Wood?

Termites use their mandibles to cut through the wood, extracting the cellulose. The cellulose is then broken down into glucose molecules by their gut bacteria and absorbed by the termites. A telltale sign that wood is vulnerable to termite attack is that it is typically less strong and dense.

What Wood Termites Do Not Eat?

Termites consume the sapwood of a tree first, which leaves the heartwood intact. So, if you are seeing extensive damage on the exterior of a tree, it is likely that termites have compromised the interior.

Termites use their mandibles as a combination of pliers, scissors, and hydraulic jaws to scrape wood. This softens the wood they’re working on and splinters it into small digestible fragments.

Once softened, the wood fragments will break off and be swallowed by the termites.

What Do Wood Termites Not Eat? Here’s the list

Termites do not eat certain types of wood. These woods have natural defenses that protect them from being eaten by termites. Research has also shown that these woods repel termites and kill up to 75% of the termites that attack them.

Interestingly, the most resistant wood to termites is not oak but teak and cedar wood. Termites will eat anything except these two types of wood.

For this reason, people in dry climates need to use treated lumber when they are building their homes, as termites will quickly destroy untreated lumber.

Cedar Wood

Cedar wood is a popular choice for building materials because it contains tannins and allelochemicals that make the heartwood resistant to termites. However, this does not mean that cedar wood is immune to termite damage on the surface.

Cedar wood is vulnerable to termites. The natural oils in cedar also repel other insects, making it a good choice for fencing and outdoor furniture.


Plywood is a type of wood treated with chemicals to make it resistant to termites, water, and fungus. To protect your home from wood-eating pests, you must understand what they do and do not eat.

Termites are a common wood-eating pest, but other pests can damage your home. Pressure-treated plywood is the most resistant to termites and can be used in gardens, patios, or outdoor structures without worry.

Cypress Heartwood

Cypress heartwood is a dense wood that termites cannot drill through. This makes it a popular choice for building construction and other applications where termites might be a problem.

Cypress heartwood is also resistant to decay, which means it will last longer than other types of wood.

The wood of the cypress tree is naturally resistant to termites and other pests, thanks to its high levels of terpenes. Cypress is a popular choice for mulch as it is termite resistant.

Termites will not eat the cypress heartwood, so you can rest assured that your mulch will be safe from these pests.

Pressure-Treated Wood

Termites can pose great damage to wooden structures. There are various ways to treat wood to prevent termites from eating it, but the most common is pressure-treating the wood with a chemical preservative.

cedar wood used in construction which is highly resistant to termite action

This treatment coats the wood in chemicals that make it toxic to termites, and they will not be able to eat it. The wood chips are made of pressure-treated lumber, which is resistant to decay and infestation by termites.

Can Termites Smell Wood?

Termites are attracted to anything that smells like wood. They have an inbuilt response to chemical odors and anything plant-based.

Decaying provides a positive chemical response that will attract their attention. This means that you can use certain scents to help keep them away from your property.

Interestingly, termites are attracted to chemically treated wood. While this may seem bad for homeowners, it is an important part of the ecosystem. Termites help break down cellulose in wood, which is important for the environment.

Termites rely on their keen sense of smell to find food. Keeping your property free of wood sources can make it more difficult for the termites to find food and help get rid of the infestation.

Signs of Termite Damage on Wood

If you see termite damage on wood, you should know a few things. 

  • Termites eat wood, so you will see evidence of this in the form of sawdust and tiny holes. 
  • In addition, termites damage wood by eating the cellulose present in it. This leaves behind telltale signs such as swelling and a hollow sound when tapped.
  • One sign of termite damage is mud tubes, evidence of subterranean termites’ activity.

Preferred Wood Types Targeted by Termites

Termites are attracted to untreated softwoods because the cellulose in the wood is a lovely meal for them. Untreated hardwoods are also eaten, but softwood is preferred. This is because softwoods generally have less lignin, making it easier for termites to digest.

Despite what you may have heard, termites do not just eat wood. They are attracted to particle board because it is damp and swollen. This makes the board softer and easier to chew through. Termites typically prefer hardwoods, but they favor a few types over others.

Termites are known to create tunnels in hardwood floors, and this type of damage can be repaired fairly easily. 

  • First, identify the affected area and remove all the damaged wood. 
  • Once it is dry, sand the area until it is level with the rest of the floor. 
  • Finally, apply a coat of sealant or finish to protect against future damage.

Termites are wood-eating pests that can cause a lot of damage to the framing, flooring, and furniture in your home if they’re not detected and treated early.

One way to help protect your home from termite damage is by using preferred wood types for construction and renovation projects. These timbers are less likely to be targeted by termites because they’re not subject to decay.

Pine Wood

Termites love to eat pine wood, as it is their favorite type of wood. If you have a structure made with pine wood, you are more likely to have termites infest it.

A few things can help you protect your structure from termites, including using other types of wood for construction and treating the wood with a termiticide.

Termites are a common pest that can cause significant damage to homes and businesses. One type of termite, the pine wood termite, is particularly destructive and can feed on various materials, including pine wood.

Home and business owners should be aware of the signs of a termite infestation and take steps to protect their property from these pests.


Bamboo is grass, which means that it is not a type of wood. This makes it susceptible to termites. 

Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate that makes up the cell walls of plants. Termites break down cellulose into sugar, which the termites use to survive. This process is called cellulolysis.

The cellulose in green bamboo is what the termites love to eat, so if you’re looking to keep your bamboo from being eaten by termites, make sure you get rid of all the green parts!

Bamboo wood is preferred by the termites

Will Termite-Resistant Wood Protect My Home?

Termite-resistant wood is a type of wood that is designed to be less attractive to termites. While it can help protect your home from some damage, it is not a sure thing. Termites are very persistent and can find ways to eat through even the most resistant wood.

Although termite-resistant wood may help protect your home from carpenter ants, you should still keep an eye on them if you are dealing with carpenter ants or termites. The professionals will be able to identify the type of infestation and recommend the best course of action.

Do Termites Eat MDF (Medium Density Fireboard)?

Termites do not eat MDF, so it is a popular choice for building materials. However, this also makes it prone to termite attacks. Termites will eat other types of wood, but they will not eat MDF.

termite resistant wood

That said, termites will not eat MDFs as the glue used in making them is a repellant. However, studies have shown that MDFs are prone to termite attacks, and the damage can be extensive.

Termites are a common problem for homeowners, as they can easily drill through trims and go into other pieces of furniture if they’re not repelled by the glue used in making medium-density fireboard (MDF). 

How Fast Termites Eat Wood

Termites eat wood much faster rate. They can consume two by four in less than two months! This is because they have a specially adapted gut that helps them break down the cellulose in wood.

On the other hand, termites are an important part of the natural decay process. This helps to create new growth and keep forests healthy. Termites are important in the ecology of forests.

wood damaged due to termite infestation

In addition, termites help maintain the balance of plant life by eating leaves and other plant matter.

Final Thoughts

Termites feed on cellulose. Cellulose is the main component of wood, so termites eat wood to survive. They also consume other materials, such as paper and cardboard, but prefer wood because it is a more nutrient-rich food source.

While termites can infest nearly any type of wood, treated wood is immune to their ravages. This means that homes and other buildings constructed with treated lumber are less likely to suffer termite infestations. Pressure treatment, concrete reinforcement, and sealant coats are all effective methods of preventing termites from invading your property.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.