Can a termite eat through concrete?

A reader e-mailed in this question:

"Can Termites eat through concrete?  I had a dark spot coming through my vynl floor and would I was having it patched there was a hole discovered in my concrete and the installer said it looked like it might be termites.  Then as I looked up over my window I saw 3 small holes in my wall.  So, now I am thinking the hole in the concrete is from termites."
No - termites can't eat through concrete.

This is an urban legend that has arisen because termites are often able to find tiny cracks in mortar or in the concrete itself and find a way through.

There are some home inspectors out there who actually believe this, so word of it spreads around.

Basic Info About Termites

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Ways to Protect Your House

Liquid Treatments

Bait Treatments

Borate Treatments


This doesn't mean that concrete slabs should go untreated, however. It's often a good idea to have a "barrier treatment" done when a house is being constructed (basically liquid pesticide that will kill or repel any termites trying to get in). Termites could not eat a hole in your concrete, but they could still get past it or through it.

It's hard to tell what actually caused the hole in your concrete floor, but there's a list of common defects here - it might be that it was poured improperly, or that stress caused the hole to occur.

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