Pest control professionals are often asked if termites are attracted to mold or wood-inhabiting fungi. Termites and wood-fungi are two groups of organisms that feed on wood for nourishment. Studies have shown that termites receive more nutrients from wood that is infected with certain types of fungi. This is because some types of wood-inhabiting fungi increase the availability of nutrients in wood, and fungi detoxify wood. Wood-inhabiting fungi also change the physical and chemical state of wood, ultimately making wood more readily metabolized by termites. Wood-inhabiting fungi serve to stimulate foraging and feeding behaviors in termites, and wood-fungi ultimately promote termite survival.
Subterranean termites prefer to feed on decayed wood sources as opposed to sound wood sources. This is not surprising since both termites and wood-inhabiting fungi feed on wood that has become moist. For the most part, termites respond positively when exposed to wood sources that have become infected with fungi. White-rot fungi works best to promote termite survivorship, aggregation behavior and consumption. Since white-rot degrades cellulose and lignin, two hard-to-digest materials within wood and plant matter, termites have an easier time digesting and processing cellulose that has become infected with white-rot. Also, this degradation of cellulose makes nutrients within wood more available to termites. Termites also respond positively to wood sources that are infected with brown-rot, but termites seem to avoid most forms of mold. Amazingly, after being exposed to wood sources infected with fungi, termite consumption increased by 120%, and aggregation behavior increased by 81%. Fungal-rot also strengthened group foraging efforts by facilitating the spread of trail-following pheromones to more colony members. As a result, fungal-rot increased trail-following behaviors by 200%, and overall survival increased by 136%. While white-rot fungi influenced termite behavior the most, brown-rot is preferred by termites.
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Tags: Termite Control, Termites