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Can Termites Eat Through Plastic? (And Digest it?)

Can Termites Eat Through Plastic? (And Digest it?)

Termites typically reside in colonies or nests and eat wood for their cellulose. They have powerful jaws that allow them to chew through anything. However, can termites eat through plastics?

Termites have a natural ability to tunnel through or chew a variety of materials to eat cellulose. They must have identified cellulose on the other side of any material to focus their energy on chewing through it.

We’ll examine some facts about termite eating habits in this article. What can kill them, what they can chew through, what they like and dislike, and what attracts them to your house? 

Can Termites Chew Through Plastic?

It varies. Termites love to eat the dead cellulose in wood. Even though plastic lacks cellulose, termites will chew through plastic if there is a chance of finding food on the other side.

Their entryways are plastics that have developed little cracks or deteriorated sections. Termites don’t usually target plastics but occasionally use them as access points to food sources.

Termites can chew through almost any material, even plastic, thanks to their strong, serrated jaws. 

Can Termites Digest Plastic?

Termites cannot digest plastic even though it is a soft, malleable material. Bacterial protozoa found in termites’ stomachs aid in the digestion of food by aiding in its breakdown. 

Cellulose serves as the termites’ food in this instance. The termites use the energy produced by the cellulose’s breakdown.

Termites see no need to try to digest plastic because it lacks cellulose; thus, they don’t bother. The bacteria protozoa found in the termite’s stomach cannot break down plastics to the point where the termites can digest them.

Can Termites Eat PVC?

The Formosan termite species can easily chew through PVC material, although not all termite species can. Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is probably present everywhere in your compound.

Due to their cost, PVC pipes have mostly replaced metal piping. White drainage pipes, cable insulation, wiring, and others in different industries all use PVC.

Among the pests that release formic acid, which quickly degrades PVC, are termites. A termite’s body is primarily composed of formic acid, save from when it secretes. Therefore, any interaction between termites and PVC materials results in the material’s destruction.

What Causes Termites to Invade Your House?

If you own a house, termites are one of the pests that should worry you the most. They are highly destructive over time and can bring a whole building down. Termites are usually attracted to materials containing cellulose or places that are dark, moist, and warm.

Knowing and understanding what can attract termites to invade your home is essential. The following are some things you need to avoid:

1. Roofs

Trees can serve as bridges to your home if they have low-hanging branches that come in contact with your roof. Because some termites prefer soft, damp wood, if your gutters are constantly clogged, termites will invade your home.

2. Basements

Termites are more likely to infest your home if you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace. Cellars also fall into this category. Most wooden structural supports in these areas are exposed, encouraging termite infestation.

Additionally, the areas are probably prone to moisture.

3. Wood piles

Termites will ultimately find their way to the wood piles because they are drawn to wood, particularly untreated wood. You might also consider raising your wood stacks to keep termites away from them.

Most homes will have stacks of firewood for the fireplaces to use when the weather gets chilly. Wood piles are generally not bad but keep them away from your home’s walls. 

4. Mulch

The majority of gardeners mulch their plants. Dead, dried wood in little bits makes up mulch. Mulch will appeal to termites because wood is their primary food source.

Most folks have little gardens close to their homes. They, however, neglect to create a barrier between the garden and the house when they mulch their plants. Termites will eventually find their way inside your home if you have mulch in your gardens.

5. Tree stumps

Tree stumps near your home can attract termites like crazy. Keep in mind that wood is the primary food source for termites and that as tree stumps decompose, they eventually become soft and damp.

Termites will quickly get access to your home once they begin to infest the tree stumps on your land.

What do Termites Not Like?

Knowing the type of damage termites are capable of causing will worry you a lot if you see them in your home. There are a few things that termites dislike and having them in your home can aid in your efforts to keep them away.

1. Geranium

Geranium plants with a strong scent attract termite predators to your home or some affected areas. Predators of termites include ladybugs, spiders, ants, centipedes, and others. The termites will stay away since they don’t want to get eaten by the termite predators.

2. Essential oils

When you sprinkle essential oils like tea tree, cinnamon, clove bud oil and some garlic, you will keep termites away. 

3. Sunlight

Termites hate the sun, and too much of it will cause them to die. Placing a piece of wooden furniture outside in the scorching sun will kill any termites you suspect are present.

4. Termite repellent plants

You should consider growing popular termite-repelling plants near your house. Vetiver grass, catnip, mint, marigolds, and daisies are a few plants that can keep termites away. These plants have chemicals that repel termites and a few other insects.

What do Termites Eat Besides Wood?

Termites are attracted to various meals, while wood remains their primary food source. Termites are mainly attracted to cellulose; therefore, if they come across another food source that contains it, they will gladly consume it.

Let’s see what else termites eat besides wood;


You shouldn’t be surprised if termites damage your indoor, potted, or outdoor plants. Termites will dig tunnels through the earth to reach the cellulose found in plants.

As they seek to consume cellulose, termites have also been known to damage the limbs of trees. Additionally, they can build nests or colonies in woody or fiber plants.


Because paper comes from wood, it naturally includes cellulose. Standard paper, cardboard, and money are readily consumed and digested by termites. 

Cellulose-containing products, such as wet cardboard, will draw termites in large numbers.

Some people learned the hard way when they hid some cash in an unfinished underground basement in a wooden chest.

The termites liked the basement’s damp and dark surroundings. Of course, the termites ate through the wooden trunks and eventually ate the cash. 


Termites are prone to eat cotton-made clothing, causing a lot of damage to the clothes. The cellulose found in cotton will be of nutritional value to termites as food.

If your closet contains clothing made of natural fibers like cotton, termites will become a problem. One sign that you have a severe termite infestation in your home is holes in your clothing.

What Causes Termites To Die?

Termites’ discovery in your home will always make you worried. The best action is to eliminate termites as soon as you notice them because they can seriously damage your home.

The following items are sure to kill termites:

1. Diatomaceous earth

When using Diatomaceous Earth to kill termites, you use one of the best and most efficient methods. It works quickly and is cheap. Even though DE is mainly safe for people and animals, it rapidly kills termites. 

2. Salt

Natural salt is the most efficient and all-natural technique to eliminate termites. Concentrated salt kills termites by causing them to become dehydrated. 

Fill a jar with warm water and enough salt concentration. Draw the salty mixture using a standard syringe. Spray the mixture over your house and into the termite nest’s entrance and exit points.

3. Boric acid

Despite being a natural pesticide, boric acid works best as a wood preservative. When the termites come in contact with the boric acid, they won’t instantly die. However, it does stop termites from extracting the cellulose and nutrients they require for survival from the wood. Spray it straight up or dilute it with water.

4. Cayenne pepper

The cayenne pepper’s active ingredient, capsaicin, causes the termites’ nervous system damage. Don’t be afraid to use it on the termites in your home if you have any leftover after seasoning your food.

What Can’t Termites Eat Through?

There has been some exaggeration, even though most people think termites can eat through anything because of their strong jaws. There are some materials that termites cannot eat through.

Some individuals think that termites can eat through concrete. But it’s not true as their jaws are not that strong. However, termites will simply creep into concrete gaps. They can squeeze into any crack, no matter how tiny.

Although some claim that termites have steel jaws, these jaws are insufficient to chew through metal. Metals are extremely tough. Termites can squeeze through tiny spaces, so you might observe them coming out of small metal holes.

Glass is another substance that termites cannot eat through. Termites can only eat through the glass if it has tiny holes. If there is cellulose-containing food on the other side, termites will work hard enough to eat through the glass.

Painted wood is another material that termites are unable to eat through. But it has to be well-painted wood; otherwise, the termites can still eat through the painted wood. If the termites manage to eat through the badly painted wood, they will destroy the whole wall or structure.

Another material that termites cannot eat through is pressure-treated wood. Manufacturers inject preservatives into the wood’s pores during the manufacturing process. These chemicals prevent the wood from decaying and becoming fungus-infected while forming a termite-resistant barrier.


If you see termites in or near your home, you shouldn’t take them lightly. Since they don’t feed on pets or humans, you might assume they are not harmful. However, since they cause significant property damage, you should act swiftly to eliminate them.