Every homeowner wants their property to be stable and well-built. But when there are termites in trees around, the home and its structure are in danger of an infestation. These insects grow in colonies and can cause significant damage to your home if not addressed on time. Let’s find out more about these termites that live on trees, what you do to treat the problem, and how you can protect your home from having an infestation.
Should You Worry About Termites in Trees on Your Property?
Termites are insects that survive in rotting wood. They eat wood and grow their colonies therein. Having termites is beneficial for nature because they help recycle fallen trees and hasten the decay of stumps. Termites also feast on living trees – including those that provide shade and landscaping decoration in your yard. These insects can also pose a real danger when it has reduced the tree’s interior into mulch and it becomes unstable.
When termites mature, some of them will leave their nest as flying termites and start a new termite colony nearby. They can infest not only one of your plants and trees, but they can also move into your home and cause more damage!
What Are Termites and Why Are They Dangerous to Your Property?
There are more than 3,000 species of termites and they are considered as one of the most successful insects in the world. They are closely related to cockroaches, but these insects subsist primarily on dead cellulose and plant material found in wood.
Termites are found everywhere except in Antarctica, and amazingly, a queen termite can live up to 50 years when there are optimal living conditions for the colony.
When looking around for termites, homeowners may mistake them for regular ants. However, when you look at them closely, you will notice their distinguishable features.
For instance, you will see that there are working termites that are white or translucent in color. Working termites are the smallest at only ½ inch in length. Next are the soldier termites which have colored heads and translucent bodies. Also, there are reproductive termites that produce small white eggs and grow the colony. These are black or light brown and they can grow wings when they mature.
You can correctly identify trees termites from flying ants when they have wings that are equal in length and straight antennae. When flying termites leave the colony, they will fly in swarms to a nearby location where they will start a new colony. Reproductive termites will immediately start laying small white eggs to build a colony around the base of the tree.
Once a colony has been established, termites in trees can become a year-around problem for homeowners. Reproductive termites produce more eggs to grow the colony during warmer months. A single colony can have as many as 250,000 termites as it thrives.
Termite Infestation in Trees
There are various species of termites, and while most of them feast on dead wood and stumps, there are also some that find live plants and trees as their food.
One of the most popular species that feasts in live trees are the Formosan termites. These species are known to have infested about 30 percent of the live oak trees in Georgia. They also infest ash, cypress and other kinds of trees. Although these insects feed on wood of dead trees, many healthy trees can also be affected.
How Do You Know If Your Tree is Infested?
Termites in trees are not noticeable at first. Homeowners often find out about the damage when it is already in the advanced stages – meaning the tree is already unstable. If you have trees on your property, always be mindful of the insects that fly around. Look out for signs of potential infestation in your areas.
Most termites leave tiny holes and wood shavings where they have started a colony. Often, the best place to check for the presence of termites is at the base of the tree. You can dig around the roots of the tree as termites hide just below the soil.
You will also notice discarded wings and dead termite bodies all over your property. These colonies soon expand and infect other trees nearby. Other signs that there is a termite infestation include swarm castles in the tree trunk, small white eggs and shelter tubes in the tree trunk.
How to Address Termites in Trees?
It is crucial that you take action to remove termites in trees as soon as you find out about them. If the colony is located near your house or other structures, it is at risk of being infected as well. Here are some steps that you can take to eliminate termites from the infested trees and protect your structures from potential problems.
Eliminate their Food Source
Termites thrive and feed on dead trees and decaying wood. The first thing that you can do to get rid of termites on your property is to remove their food source. Start by pruning the infected wood and throwing it into the trash bin. Use a pair of gardening gloves to do this and make sure that the bin has a sealed lid so that they cannot escape. Pruning trees can take several hours or days – thus it is vital that you dispose of and terminate the termites you removed from the trees at the end of the day.
This process can be repeated until all the infected wood is removed. You will wipe out a sizable portion of their colony as you start removing their food source. Ideally, pruning must be scheduled so that your yard will also look neat and clean. If the infestation is too severe to handle on your own, get some help to trim the entire tree or have it removed completely.
Using the Appropriate Termiticide
Once you have pruned the infected portion of the tree, apply termite killer at the base. Use it as directed and take safety precautions. You may spray termiticide on nearby plants and trees as well. This will not only eliminate the colony in the affected tree, but it will also prevent them from starting a colony in nearby trees. While spraying, you may take the opportunity to spray around your home’s structure too. It is best if you use a biodegradable permethrin-based solution for safety.
Destroy the Termite Colonies
Make an effort to find the termite colony in the trees on your property. It looks like a huge group of termites getting busy in one area. Look for wood piles, check under the soil or tree roots – these are the places where they build their colonies.
Set Up Traps for Termites
The last step for you is to set up traps after spraying the colony with termiticides. There are several types of termite traps that you can use, make sure to get one designed for your needs and are safe for children or pets. Use them as directed and in places where termites would build nests. Check them often to see if it is working. If you notice more termites are getting trapped, you might need wooden stake traps. After pruning, spraying, and setting up traps, dispose of the infected wood properly to avoid further infestation.
Monitor Your Surroundings for Termite Activity
After doing all the steps mentioned above, you still need to watch out for additional termite activity in the infected tree. Some visible signs of termites include damage to branches, around the base and tree trunks. Check out the traps you’ve set up to gauge the efficacy of the treatment you are using. If you see more termites after treatment, you may need to try something else as it is not working.
Hire Professional and Termite Experts
If you are not sure about the steps you need to take or there is still a lot of termite activity after implementing all these actions, you might need help from pest control experts. There are professional termite exterminator companies that can provide you with timely and effective services. Termite companies may also offer free inspection and give you a quote based on the extent of the problem.
If you like, you can ask your preferred termite company to use natural solutions in eliminating termites in your property.
How to Prevent Termite Infestation on Your Property
Termite infestation can happen anywhere because many homeowners are not aware that they are attracting these insects into their property. To lessen the risk of having termites in your trees or home, always practice cleanliness and neatness in your surrounding. Avoid leaving dead tree stumps in your lawn or leaving a stack of firewood in your backyard. If you have excess mulch, best to dispose of it properly than piling it to attract a termite colony.
Are Having Termites in Trees Dangerous for my Home?
Although termites in trees can easily migrate and start a colony in your property, it doesn’t automatically mean that there is already an infestation in your home’s structure. Termites eat the insides of a tree and it may cause it to become unstable. Trees with termites pose a serious danger to people and structures because they can fall down when they can no longer support themselves.
There are various species of termites and the majority of them feed on decaying wood. But there are certain species that can infest live and healthy trees until they become hollow inside. Trees infested with termites can be dangerous to your home, family, and the neighborhood because of falling limbs or unstable trunk. If you monitor termite activity in your area, you need to take action to solve the problem as early as you can. So learn to recognize the signs of termites and the steps to take in case of an infestation. If you are hesitant to handle the problem, get help from a pest control company to help you get rid of termites in trees.