There are several types of insects and a wide variety of species that actively consume wood. Some of these wood-eating bugs pose major threats to property and forests, especially if they exist as an invasive species. However, not all bugs that cause damage to wood actually eat it. It takes a highly specialized physiology to digest wood as a primary form of nutrition.
Termites are among the most well-known of the wood-eating insects. Due to a symbiotic relationship with a strain of bacteria in their gut, they are able to eat and digest wood. They are responsible for consuming detritus and deadfall in nature, providing an essential service to the ecology. However, when they come into contact with wooden buildings, they can cause expensive damage, and even weaken the supports of a house to a dangerous extent.
Unlike termites, wood-boring beetles attack living trees as well as seasoned timber. While this does not prevent them from boring into and damaging buildings, it does make them a potentially catastrophic threat to forests if they are introduced as an invasive species. It is actually the larval form of the beetle that bores into and devours wood. They spend most of their life cycle chewing tiny tunnels through wood, only existing as adult beetles for long enough to mate and lay eggs.
While horntail wasps only attack living trees, their larva may lie dormant in the wood long enough for it to be made into lumber, causing minor damage when they emerge as adults. They devour wood as larvae with the help of a symbiotic fungus. The female wasp lays eggs in the wood of a living tree, injecting a form of fungus with her stinger at the same time. While the eggs develop into larvae, the fungus digests the wood into a form the larvae can eat. When they hatch, they are surrounded by a meal ready to eat and a clear path to the outside world.
Carpenter Ants and Carpenter Bees
Contrary to popular belief, carpenter ants and carpenter bees do not eat wood. Carpenter bees eat nectar, just like any other bee. Carpenter ants have as broad a diet as any other species of ant, but they lack the termite's ability to break down cellulose into digestible starches. Instead, they use wood as a place to build a nest, tunneling into the wood of dead trees and buildings just as other ants tunnel into dirt.
- Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
Flying Bugs That Eat Wood
Wood-eating insects can be a danger to anyone's home and/or yard. The most well-known flying insect that consumes wood is the drywood...
What Eats Wood?
Insects That Eat Wood in America; How to Fix Exterior Wood Dry Rot; What Kind of Bug Will Eat Treated Wood? Comments....
Types of Bugs & Insects That Live in Wood
Insects that live in healthy trees and shrubs are known as primary invaders. Those that reside in stressed and dead wood are...
How to Identify House Pests & Bugs
Look for wood-eating bugs and pests. ... termites can work their way in and start eating up the wood of your home....
Bugs That Eat Sheetrock
Since our homes always contain some kind of wood and insects live within and off wood, most homeowners will find bugs at...
What Do Beetles Eat?
Beetles will eat almost anything, including dead wood, plant material, pollen, nectar, dung, carcasses and food in cabinets. Learn how the only...
How to Get Rid of Insects Eating Wood Furniture
eHow; Home Safety & Household Tips; Bug & Insect Control; Get Rid of Insects; How to Get Rid of Insects Eating Wood...
Wood Signs of Insect Infestation
If you have visible insect droppings in your home, you may have a pest infestation. ... While they don't eat wood,... Types...
How to Get Rid of Bugs In Wood
Many types of bugs can bore into wood and make it home, from termites and carpenter ants, to more unique varieties such...
How to Identify Indoor Insects by Droppings
How to Identify Indoor Insects by ... Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images Brand X ... Almost all insects, whether beneficial... Wood Signs of...