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Termites are known for their destructive habits when it comes to wood, causing billions of dollars in property damage for homeowners each year. But is there anything else they will eat? Or won’t?

To illustrate the point, the Professional Pest Management Alliance (PPMA), the consumer education and public outreach arm of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), produced a video series where they unleashed 100,000 hungry termites onto everyday items – like towels, shoes and even fast food – to see what they would eat. The results might astound you.

You may be wondering, why do termites even eat wood in the first place? Wood contains cellulose, a common organic compound found in nature. Termites are able to break down the cellulose fibers found in wood and derive much needed nutrients. They are one of the few creatures that rely on wood as a primary food source. But beyond the obvious, here are some other household items found to be on the termites’ “will eat” menu:

  • Burger & Fries. We all know how delicious fast food is, but for termites, the main course is the packaging. The termites devoured the paper bag and wax paper wrapping holding the food, as cellulose is a major compound in the makeup of paper. Perhaps most fascinating, however, is that the termites ate the entire burger but left the fries behind. Many fast-food chains actually make their burgers with filler known as powdered cellulose, infusing the compound into everything from buns to meats. This high abundance of cellulose makes greasy burgers just as appetizing to termites as they are to humans.
  • Books. In the same way that termites can destroy a home from the inside out, they decimated the dictionary pages from A to Z but left the front cover intact. These results certainly echo the age-old advice not to judge a book by its cover.
  • Headphones. The termites ignored the noise and quickly got to work on the headphones, chewing through the outer fabric of the headband and ear cushions, as well as the foam cushions themselves. These “silent destroyers” can wreak havoc on any household, out of sight and out of earshot.
  • Paper Money. Termites can literally eat you out of house and home and can also take a big bite out of your wallet – in more ways than one! These termites ate through the currency layer by layer, feasting on the cellulose-rich paper bills. Termites can also burn through your money by attacking wood structures, causing approximately $5 billion in U.S. property damage each year.
  • Shoes. Termites stripped the cotton fabric from a canvas shoe – even down to the laces. Cellulose is the main structural component in plant materials including cotton textiles, which are typically found in many items throughout homes.
  • Towels. The phrase “you are what you eat” certainly rings true when it comes to termites. After chewing through dyed cotton terry washcloths, the termites turned blue and red, absorbing the color of the dye they consumed. Gross!

If you’d like to view the fun, check out the NPMA “Will They Eat It?” series for yourself. If you’re already experiencing horrific scenes like this in your own home, you’ll want to call your termite control professional quicker than you can say “lights, camera, action!” and arrange for a free inspection.