Do Termites Eat Bamboo? Some Bamboo Facts You Should Know

Bamboo is one of mother nature’s best gifts. It’s strong, versatile and durable for something that’s not actually wood.

But since it’s not wood, you’d have to ask. Do termites eat bamboo too? Is it part of their diet even though it’s grass? Read on. The answer might surprise you.

Do termites eat bamboo?

A bamboo has a lot of uses, from constructing buildings to clothes designing. Now, it has made it's way to modern American homes. CC Image of Henry Burrows on Flickr

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What do we use bamboo for?

The bamboo is known worldwide as a very flexible material to work with. The most common uses for the humble bamboo involves constructing buildings, houses and furniture. But that’s all changed because now, there are even bamboo decorations, sculptures and even bamboo clothes and bamboo bicycles!

What’s so great about bamboo?

Even though it’s technically classified as grass, bamboo is as strong as wood. Here are only some of the benefits of using bamboo for your house:

  • It’s environmentally friendly. When bamboo is processed, it doesn’t leave major wastes behind.
  • ​It’s strong enough to resist cuts. In fact, Asians prefer bamboo because it doesn’t break easily.
  • But, it’s flexible enough to make curves and other tricky lines and shapes.
  • About.com cites bamboo floors as easy to maintain. All you really need to do is to vacuum it once in a while.
  • Bamboo is also slightly water resistant, unlike wood that absorbs water.
  • It’s durable. Some bamboo types can be so durable that they can rival red oak. Manufactured strands of the stuff can even be more hardwearing than that.
  • It can be termite and ant resistant. According to eHow, treated bamboo is boiled to remove sugar and starches. It's then kiln dried to get rid of moisture. Termites won’t even be tempted to look at that same bamboo because all the sugar and starches that they need are gone.
  • Bamboo can also be slip-proof and fire resistant. Manufactured and treated bamboo can prevent you from slipping on it or from causing accidental fires.

Do termites eat bamboo?

Do termites eat bamboo? 2

A lot of people think that the bamboo doesn't get eaten by termites. But that's not true. CC Image courtesy of Wiennat Mongkulmann on Flickr

A lot of people certainly think that since bamboo isn’t wood, termites won’t eat it.

But in truth, termites eat bamboo; these bugs can actually gnaw their way through it if it’s untreated. This is because of that starch and sugar that needed to be removed in the first place.

Termites also have protozoa in their stomachs. It’s bacteria that produce enzymes which help in digesting cellulose and other hard substances.

Drywood termites are what mostly terrorize bamboos. They build their nests inside culm parts. And you can only ever see them until the infested bamboo starts breaking apart.

How do you use bamboo in a house?

So how do you use bamboo? How do you keep bamboo furniture and floors without worrying about pesky termites inside the house?

Use a concrete foundation

For bamboo flooring, use termite-resistant materials as foundation. These can be termite-resistant concrete, steel or physical barriers that pest control recommends. Whatever the case, you just have to make sure that the bamboo used for your house doesn’t touch the ground.

Use borates

For bamboo flooring, SF Gate's Home Guides tells us that the best option would be to buy borate-treated bamboos or to coat the bamboo with borate yourself.

Boric acid has a seriously devastating effect on termites. It kills the protozoa in the termite’s stomach, so termites basically starve to death after having their first bite. A lot of manufacturers have opted to laminate bamboo with this acid to make them termite-resistant.

For Bamboo Living, borates have a lot of benefits for houses with contemporary bamboo designs:

  • ​For starters, it’s low in toxicity. It’s relatively safe when you work with it. Just don’t forget to use your safety gear.
  • It’s not difficult to do. Since the acid dissolves in water like salt, it’s easy to treat a variety of wood, not just bamboo.
  • A borate treatment isn't that expensive.
  • It’s not only toxic to termites. It’s toxic to fungi and other bugs too.
  • And it slows down weathering making the bamboo last even longer.

Now you know that bamboo isn’t as invulnerable to termites as you might have thought. So you might want to try getting your hands on borates if you want to keep that contemporary and Asian vibe in your modern home.

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