NPMA video project showcases termites’ surprising appetites


July 16, 2019

The National Pest Management Association’s (NPMA’s) “Will They Eat It?” series is a new six-part video project that shows what really happens when everyday household objects are placed into a tank of 100,000 hungry termites.

While we know termites will sink their “teeth” into almost anything made of cellulose — a common organic compound found in plant materials like cotton, paper and wood — the “Will They Eat It?” video series unveils a number of surprising twists, shocking even NPMA’s own entomologist. As if eating Americans out of house and home to the tune of $5 billion a year in property damage wasn’t enough, these “silent destroyers” will also decimate other prized possessions, including some of your favorite dinner foods.

“While I’ve specialized in structural pests like termites for many years now, I couldn’t help but get excited when I saw the amount of damage they were able to inflict on each item in such a short period of time,” says Dr. Michael Bentley, entomologist for the NPMA and host of “Will They Eat It?” “From making a bag of fast food literally disappear, to obliterating red and blue hand towels—and changing color themselves as a result — what better way to show just how fascinatingly voracious termites’ appetites really are than throwing everyday objects into a tank and watching them decimate it in no time at all!”

The drama will unfold with new episodes premiering every Thursday on as Dr. Bentley introduces items like a burger and fries, a dictionary, headphones, fake money, shoes and towels to these tiny terrors to find out “Will They Eat It?”


In case you can’t wait for the weekly reveal, the hungry termites couldn’t resist:

Burger and 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, 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 a 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.

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.

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.

Fake money:
Termites can literally eat you out of house and home and can also take a big bite out of your wallet. Our termites ate through the currency layer by layer, feasting on the cellulose-rich paper bills.

Termites stripped the cotton fabric from a canvas shoe, illustrating just how quickly termites can chew through household items. Cellulose is the main structural component in plant materials including cotton textiles, which are typically found in many items throughout homes.

The phrase “you are what you eat” certainly rings true when it comes to termites. After chewing through dyed cotton wash cloths, the termites turned blue and red, absorbing the color of the dye they consumed.

If you suspect you have a termite problem, contact your local pest control professional. For more information on termites, visit For updates on the “Will They Eat It?” project, visit or follow @PestWorld social media channels.

Image: NPMA

Image: NPMA


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