What Attracts Termites Besides Wood? (Water, Paper & Cardboard)


Nearly everyone knows the main thing that attracts termites is wood, however, termites are attracted to more items than just wood. An awareness of things that attract termites and things that repel termites can help you protect your property.

Table of Contents

  1. Moisture
  2. Darkness
  3. Cellulose (Plant Based Material)
  4. Warmth
  5. Weird Things You Wouldn’t Think Attracted Termites
  6. What Deters and Repels Termites?


Termites, especially subterranean termites, enjoy dampness and moisture. Termites would have a difficult time digesting cellulose if it were not somewhat damp.

Additionally, termites would lose all the moisture from their bodies if they spent to much time in a dry area, which is why they build mud trail or tubes whenever they need to venture from the ground through an exposed area.

By creating these mud tubes they are essentially creating shelter for themselves and trapping in the moisture and they other thing they love… darkness.


Termites also prefer darkness because it offers them protection to hide from predators. Again this is another reason why they will sometimes construct their mud tunnels hundreds of feet from the ground to a secondary colony above ground (Often in a tree or house).

The exception to this rule is that termite swarmers (flying termites) are attracted to light. See this article by the University of California Davis for more information on winged termites being drawn to light.

Cellulose (Plant Based Material)

Most people know that termites like and are attracted to wood, but fewer people are aware that termites’ tastes are not limited lumber. They also enjoy munching on any cellulose containing material.

Cellulose is a found in plants and plant materials. So not only wood but also leaves, bark, paper, cardboard and anything that is made of plants. Some items that contain cellulose also attract other pests. For example, like termites, silverfish are also attracted to paper and cardboard.


Termites also prefer warmth. In fact one of the way termite inspectors detect termite presence in houses is by using infrared cameras to look for hot spots in walls. When there is a large enough termite colony in a wall, the heat they produce will show up on the infrared camera screen.

Weird Things You Wouldn’t Think Attracted Termites

  • Bird Seed
  • Paper
  • Books
  • Cardboard
  • Pheromones of Other Termites

What Deters and Repels Termites?

You can use the knowledge of what attract termites to learn how to repel them. As much as possible reverse the above conditions that termites love to do the opposite—repel the termites.

Ensure you do not allow any moisture to lag in or around your home. Fix leaks as soon as possible and replace any wood that may have become soaked during the leak.

Do not place plants or mulch right next to your foundation, since both help retain moisture and masks otherwise an easily spotted sign of termite activitytermite mud tubes.

Make sure you gutters, down spouts, and faucets direct water well away from your foundation.

Ensure you have at least 6 inches of separation between you the top of the soil and your foundation. It is best if it slopes downward a bit for proper drainage as well.

You may have to regrade the layer of soil near your homes foundation to achieve this.

The warmth in your home during the winter time may be very attractive to termites… that is if they can get to it. Tiny cracks or holes in your foundation as small as .03 inches can be entered by termites.

To counter that patch any cracks or holes in or around you foundation especially before fall (It is a good idea to keep tabs on this year round as well.)

4 thoughts on “What Attracts Termites Besides Wood? (Water, Paper & Cardboard)”

  1. Very helpful! You answered 4 out of the 5 questions I had before getting to the repellent section of your article. TY


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