Do Termites Eat Paper and Cardboard?

Our house has so much stuff. From furniture to plastic, from paper to cardboard boxes. So much to handle.

What if there is a termite infestation in your house? What are they going to attack first?

Wooden structures for sure, as they are made up of cellulose. What about paper? We have got lots of books and cardboard boxes so it is important to know whether they are going to eat these things or not.

Do they eat paper and cardboard? How can we protect them? 

All these questions will be answered here.

Do Termites Eat Paper?

Do Termites Eat Paper?

The answer is yes, they do eat paper but with some exceptions. The exceptions and the reasons behind those exceptions will be discussed in the next section.

Cellulose is not easy to break down but termites can break it down easily. This provides termites an edge over other animals and much less competition for food. 

Termites’ main source of nutrition is cellulose and they usually feed on substances made up of cellulose. Normal paper, just like wood, is made up of cellulose.

So termites will happily feed on paper.

What Type of Paper Do Termites Eat and Avoid?

As already mentioned in the above section, there are some exceptions. Termites eat paper only because it is made up of cellulose. Termites will avoid paper that does not have cellulose in it or if it is difficult to extract cellulose from it.

Let’s take the example of drywall paper and tar paper.

Termites will eat the paper that encloses drywall. The reason is simple, it’s due to the presence of cellulose in them. If it’s soaked, then the chances are higher as it will provide them moisture along with the cellulose.

Termites are well known to eat away paper that covers sheetrock, thus degrading its integrity.

Now let’s come to tar paper. Although it has cellulose in it, termites usually keep themselves away from it. This could be due to the reason that tar paper is generally considered effective enough at repelling termites.

It is often used as a barrier between the foundation walls and wooden walls. So as said earlier, termites will prefer the type of paper that provides them with a sufficient amount of cellulose and will avoid the rest.

Do Termites Eat Cardboard?

Do Termites Eat Cardboard?

The common thing between paper and cardboard is that they both are made up of cellulose. So, ultimately termites are going to feed on cardboard.

The problem becomes more serious if the cardboard is wet. It provides them with moisture too. Termites are attracted to wet or damp cellulose materials.

Cardboard boxes which are kept in a dark place for a long time, are likely to get infested by termites as termites prefer dark environments.

Cardboards placed in areas like storerooms and garages should be checked as here the chances of damage are higher due to the presence of a dark environment.

Cardboards are also used as DIY traps. The homeowners keep the cardboard in the targeted areas where they have seen termites. Since cardboards are made up of cellulose, termites start feeding on them.

As soon as there is a large number of termites in the cardboard, homeowners burn it down.

How Can We Protect Paper and Cardboard From Termites?

Do Termites Eat Paper or Cardboard?

We have already understood that termites are attracted to three things. Cellulose, moisture, and darkness. To prevent termites from eating your paper and cardboard, you have to eliminate the above-mentioned things.

Termites avoid sunlight and prefer darkness. This is the reason why subterranean termites create mud tubes (present underground) to make their way to your house.

So try to keep your papers and cardboard boxes in areas where there is some light and air. Keeping your items dry and in a lit area will help in keeping termites away from them.

During the rainy season, you have to be more cautious, as moisture comes during that season. 

Avoid keeping your books and cardboard boxes in dark places and make sure you check them once in a while for clues of termite activity.


Not just books, cardboard boxes, everything that has cellulose and moisture in it will attract termites. Since you have got an understanding of what attracts termites. Use this for prevention.

Eliminating moisture and keeping an eye on substances made up of cellulose can prevent the infestation of termites to a great extent.

One more thing, if you have ever found any termite damage to your books and cardboard boxes, inspect your whole house. Check for the signs of a termite infestation and if you found any, immediately call the pest control team.

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Daniel White
I'm Daniel White, and I live in Jacksonville, Florida. The warm and humid climate of Florida gives an ideal habitat for many different kinds of pests. So, if I had to live in Florida, I had to learn how to deal with these pests. Now, I have 7 years of experience in Pest Control.

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