Will termites eat my books

A reader e-mailed in this question:

"I have a bunch of books in my collection and the other day I opened one up and saw a small white bug that looked like an ant crawling in it. I think it's a termite. I'm afraid they will damage my collection and I can't check every page of every book to try to find them. Are these termites and is there any easy thing I can do?"
Yes, termites will eat books. Books and other papers are made from wood, and they contain all the nutrients termites need, from a substance called cellulose, and are an obvious food source for them.

The good news is that the termites aren't actually living in your books. The bad news is that there is likely a colony in your house. Termites won't build a colony in the books, but they will send out workers looking for food who will tunnel around and will start eating at the books, bringing the food back to the nest.
 

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Ways to Protect Your House

Liquid Treatments

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The immediate thing you should do is box up the books and move them away from where you found the termite. Like ants, termites will follow paths back to food that they've already discovered. The books are fair game at this point and they'll be back looking for more. If you put them in a different place, the chemical trail at least won't lead back to them - for now.

After doing that, you need to get rid of the colony itself, otherwise both your house and your books will continue to be damaged. You'll have to call in an exterminator to do this, because it's not something you can really do yourself.

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