loading image

Most animals do not eat wood because of tough lignin fibers and cellulose sugars that are difficult to digest. Some insects, however, such as termites, bark beetles, and sawfly wasps, have evolved the ability to feed on dead and dying trees. Termites are able to digest wood thanks to symbiotic microbes (bacteria and protozoa) in their hindgut or “stomach” that break down cellulose into short-chain fatty acids, which the termites use as nutrition. Other insects, including some ants and bees, cannot digest wood as food, but rather carve it out to create nesting cavities for their young. Openings caused by insects allow fungi and bacteria to penetrate wood and help recycle the nutrients. This is beneficial in forests, but a detriment to homeowners. Most wood used in construction is now pressure-treated or kiln-dried to kill any existing insects. But this does not stop insects from infesting wood years after treatment, or when it becomes wet from leaks, contact with soil, or exposure to the elements. See “The Intriguing World of Insects” on display, pre-security, in the International Terminal. http://bit.ly/IntriguingInsects This image was posted on November 04, 2019.