Bamboo is a type of grass, and much like other grasses, it has its ups and downs. But does bamboo, like other members of its family, draw termites to itself?
Like all other plant species, bamboo tends to draw termites to itself. The sole reason is that termites feed on cellulose, the primary building block of plants, including bamboo. In addition, termites prefer eating plants with moisture levels of 10% or more, and bamboos have a high moisture content, reaching up to 80%. This makes them particularly preferential for termites as a source of food.
The article below tells all you need to know about bamboos, termites, and their relationship; read on!
Why do termites feed on grass?
Termites are a knack for feeding on cellular solid materials found in nature. These include the following in great numbers:
- Animal excretion
- Cellulose-containing plants
Termites have unique microorganisms in their stomachs that ease their digestion of cellulose and other complex materials. These microorganisms live in a mutually beneficial relationship with the termites: the termites provide the bacteria with food to eat in the form of sugars; the bacteria, in return, break these down as a source of energy for the host.
Termites break down wood and other food sources in small sections and digest them. Over time, this feeding leads to weakened cellulose structures that ultimately break. This is the biggest reason for the structural damage to woods and plants, including bamboo.
Do bamboos draw termites?
Bamboos don’t invite termites as much as wood does; still, bamboo is made of cellulose and a food source for termites. Termites eat bamboo, digest it and use the sugars they obtain for energy-requiring purposes, including growth.
Additionally, termites use the food they eat as a source of water. For this reason, termites prefer to eat plant species with high moisture content, or at least 10% moisture or more, although they can survive on plants with moisture levels between 2.5%-3%. With 80% moisture levels, bamboos become a great source of cellulose and moisture for termites to survive and thrive on.
Different insects and bugs that eat bamboo
Termites are not the only insects that relish bamboo as a food source. Several other insects exist that munch on these plants for their energy and survival, including:
These insects attack different types of bamboo and are particularly fond of the dry weather. Unlike other insects and termites that feed on bamboo, the Bamboo mites, once inside the shoots, spin silk webs and lay eggs within the shoot. Once this has been done, the silk is further spun to protect the eggs until they hatch. This causes the bamboo to weaken and ultimately die from the inability to photosynthesize.
These have the strong ability to eat everything inside the bamboo shoot, leaving only a thin outer covering behind. They create a cloud of powdery dust that fills the holes of the shoot from where in insect enters and chews. They can destroy many bamboos in a relatively short amount of time.
Bamboo Mealy Bugs
These bugs are native to Australia and feed on fresh bamboo that is soft and sumptuous, weakening the plant. They also lead to bamboo mold formations that attract other insects, including ants.
How to prevent termites on bamboo?
Prevention of termite growth on bamboo is essential when preserving the plant. Several methods exist to get this done, including:
This method helps break down the inner cellulose structures and bonds that make the interior so attractive for the termites. Boiling breaks down the bonds between the large sugar molecules, making them a different form of sugar not preferred by termites as a food source. This prevents termite attacks on bamboos.
Termites can be physically kept from the cellulose by lubricating the bamboo with repellents, the most common one being boric acid and its derivatives known as borates. These when ingested kill the microorganisms residing in the gut of the termites, making their ability to digest cellulose impossible.
Even when ingested, there is no energy production for the termites which are then forced to starve and ultimately die. The borate is available as a powder that can be mixed in water or glycol and applied to the bamboo for ultimate protection.
Fixing Type Preservatives
This category of preventatives includes salts that react with the internal mixture of the bamboo and form complexes that strongly bind or “fix” within the shoot. This fixation makes the cellulose unavailable for termites and bugs that attack the bamboo.
Fixation is generally a time-consuming process, however, once the bonds have formed, it proves to be particularly effective. The metals that usually are used for this process include Copper and Chromium.
Non-Fixing Type Preservatives
This type includes salts, mainly boron that forms a soluble solution when mixed with water. The boron water is sprayed on bamboo, which works as adequate protection. Once the water evaporates, the salt lightly deposits on the bamboo and continues to do its job. The most crucial factor here is that this type of preservative is not toxic or harmful to the bamboo and lets the inner cellulose stay intact.
Termite growth can be prevented on bamboo by exposure of the shoots to intense sunlight. Termites grow and thrive in darkness and are inefficient when exposed to the sun’s harsh rays. Keeping the bamboo in sunlight for a few days can help eliminate termites.
From this article, you have learned the various ways bamboo is being attacked by termites and the measures that can prevent such attacks. Bamboo draws termites as much as any other plant that is full of water and breakable sugars. Prevention is simple yet not promisingly effective, and insects and termites continue to evolve and find newer ways to survive and thrive. A close eye on the growing bamboo is one of the most effective ways to prevent termite inhabitation, along with focusing on the weather most suitable for plant photosynthesis and lease for termite survival.
Hi, I’m John Stephens, chief editor and writer for Totalgardener.com. I’ve been gardening and raising animals for over 15 years starting with a small backyard plot in Northern Virginia where I grew corn, potatoes, squash, and using a high mulch technique called the Ruth Stout Method. I also raised ducks and small mammals for meat and eggs in a movable pen similar to the ones used by Joel Salatin. I later moved to Colorado where I experimented with growing greens using aquaponics inside. I eventually added a microgreens setup and home sprouting operation. I’m excited to share everything I’ve learned plus more from the other local gardening and animal raising experts I know.