Louisiana is home to several insect pests that damage structural wood within homes and buildings. Some of these wood-infesting insects include carpenter bees, carpenter ants, powderpost beetles, and of course, termites. With the exception of powderpost beetles, termites are the only insects listed above that eat wood, as carpenter ants and carpenter bees excavate structural wood for nesting purposes only. Powderpost beetles mainly feed on structural wood sources in order to consume starch, and while powderpost beetle infestations can result in serious structural damages, the insects are not considered pests of serious economic significance in Louisiana. However, nine destructive termite species inhabit Louisiana, and most of these species have become established in every region of the state. It is well known that termites are voracious eaters of everything that contains cellulose, which is an organic component of plant life. Wood is certainly preferred by termites, but termites have been known to eat objects that even Louisiana residents would never expect the insects to eat. Some of these odd food choices include fast food, shoes and numerous textile products.
When a group of curious researchers with the National Pest Management Association presented termites with a typical fast food meal they were not surprised to see the insects consume the cellulose-rich paper bag and burger wrapper. However, it did come as a surprise when the termites ate the entire burger, as well as the buns. As it happens, fast food companies put cellulose filler into their burger patties in order to cut costs, which explains why the termites made quick work of the pseudo-meat product while ignoring the french fries. The researchers also found that termites do not mind consuming headphones, as laboratory termites rapidly consumed the outer fabric of the product’s headband, as well as the ear cushions. Other experiments had termites consuming every single page of a dictionary, as well as towels, and running shoes.
Have you ever found non-wood items that had become damaged by termites?