Without any protective treatment, most bamboo species have an average natural durability of less than 2 years. Stored under cover, untreated bamboo may last 4-7 years. These variations in bamboo durability strongly depend on the species, the length of the culm, the thickness of the wall, but also, and equally important, the time of harvesting.
Untreated bamboo, just like almost any other wood, has a high chance of being attacked by insects. Bamboo insect infestation occurs due to the presence of starch and other carbohydrates. Insects obtain their food supply from the bamboo and degrade it, therefore bamboo should be chemically treated to avoid infestation.
The forming of bamboo mold, spores and mildew on the surface of bamboo canes is not uncommon, especially when bamboo is not 100% dry. Surface mold on bamboo products will only occur once, maybe twice until the moisture content inside the bamboo canes is completely evaporated.
Storing bamboo in water or "leaching bamboo" is a traditional bamboo preservation method, used by indigenous communities and farmers of several Asian and Latin American regions. In Latin America it has been the tradition to transport bamboo from the mountain and jungle areas towards the urban centers by means of bamboo rafts.
Chemical bamboo preservation (with or without the help of special equipment) ensures long term protection. Depending upon the method of bamboo treatment, chemical preservatives can impart short term or long term protection.
Drying bamboo poles requires more time than wood of similar density. This because bamboo possess hygroscopic materials (compound that easily absorbs moisture) that may contain 50-60% moisture content, depending on the felling season, area of growth and species.