Xylophagus is a adjective which is used in the field of zoology to qualify the insects that feed on wood . There are animals of different orders that include wood in their diet.
While there insects that feed according to the type of plant, others choose the wood based on the characteristics it presents (its conservation, hardness, if it has fungi, etc.). The digestion of food also develops in different ways according to the species in question.
There are xylophagous insects that have cellulase , an enzyme that allows the decomposition of the cellulose and its transformation into glucose . Others can develop cellulose processing through the bacteria that house in their digestive system .
The isoptera , which in the colloquial language are known as termites , constitute a example typical of xylophagous animals. These insects eat wood to obtain the cellulose that they decompose through the action of protozoa , organisms with which they maintain a symbiotic relationship. Termites are frequent protagonists of cartoons, where they quickly eat furniture such as tables and chairs; In real life, of course, the process is much slower.
While in nature all xylophagous species fulfill a necessary function for balance , when crossing with the human being they become a threat to their organization in society, since wood is one of the most used materials in modern life: not only our furniture is usually made of wood, but it also supports the building of a significant percentage of homes around the world.
Termites, as well as mice and cockroaches, are not destructive species nor should they be considered negative: it is we invaders, who break into balance and create a large number of situations for which the planet was not prepared. However, we manufacture cockroach venom and mouse traps, and we also organize against termites, to maintain integrity of our belongings, no matter that along the way we end up with millions of living beings.
It is important to highlight that, beyond insects, there are also other animals considered xylophages, such as Panda (a mammal that feeds on bamboo ), the bivalve mollusk known as joke and a kind of catfish . In many cases, wood intake is complemented by the consumption of other foods that provide different nutrients.
The panda bear is, as well as the termite, an animal that enjoys great popularity in the field of fiction, although in its case the scope is greater, since having a more friendly and pleasant aspect to human eyes, They also give rise to the design of dolls of various materials, from stuffed animals to plastic. While it is correct to say that it is a xylophagous species, since 99% of its food is focused on bamboo wood , it is worth mentioning that his diet It includes other elements.
In addition to the almost thirty species of bamboo that are part of the panda's diet, this particular mammal can also eat eggs and insects, which comprise its protein source, without neglecting some small species mammals , mainly rodents.
This brings us to the functioning of your body: the aforementioned versatility can only take place because your digestive system has adapted to carry out the assimilation of cellulose molecules; However, since it is not a completely xylophagous animal, this task takes more work than others and does not perform it efficiently, which is why it eats much more wood than is necessary.