Termites are insects that live in dark areas and get fed by cellulose most found in wood. These insects are considered as a pest in the United States and more than 41 species are found there. U.S people, particularly those in New Orleans, suffer from many termite infestations which cost the government $5 billion yearly.
Termites started infesting houses since people have moved from traditional cement and rock buildings to new fashioned wood structured houses. Termites infest any kind of wooden material, and they also invade trees which have no resistance to these insects. That’s why, when a tree is infested, it gets totally damaged and useless in a short amount of time.
These termites that live in trees are called “tree termites” and they are as dangerous as “house termites”. They can ruin your entire garden in several years.
- 1 Types of termites that live in trees (tree termites):
- 2 The potential damage caused by tree termites and some ways to repair damaged trees:
- 3 Prevention and extermination of tree termites:
- 4 Further Resources for Tree Termites
Types of termites that live in trees (tree termites):
Termite most common species in North America are: Formosan termite, eastern subterranean termite, Drywood termite and Dampwood termite. Well, all of these species can infest trees but they just don’t have the same destructive behavior when invading tree trunk.
- Formosan termite: This particular kind of termites is subterranean, it means they leave in the soil, but it has the most dangerous invasive behavior. Formosan termites can infest a tree from its bottom: they move through the roots to the main trunk and form a tunnel from the mail soil colony to the secondary trunk colony considering the tree as a marvelous source of food.
- Eastern subterranean termite: The eastern subterranean termite, rarely, infest trees as it lives in the underground where there are high level of moisture, wet soil and cool air. Eastern subterranean termites can, also form small colonies on the ground, and they are frequently found near to a tree trunk recognized with mud mounds.
- Drywood termite: This kind of termites is invasive and it infects any type of wooden areas, ranging from walls, to basements, firewood, and even trees. Drywood termites like forming colonies in a living tree because it is considered as a good source of food. They don’t like much moisture but a dry trunk of tree is perfect for them. Besides, their nests are visible because they don’t form a nest inside the tree trunk, but they build it along it.
- Dampwood termites: as for Dampwood termites, trees are the perfect location of a colony. This type of termites like high levels of moisture and the tree provides it for them with the wet wood inside it.
They also infest decayed wood such as a dead tree trunk as it contains a lot of dead cellulose ready to be recycled by termites. In North America, Dampwood termites are most likely to invade trees or plants more than houses.
The potential damage caused by tree termites and some ways to repair damaged trees:
Termites cannot infest an area without damaging it, they are considered as the most dangerous pest in U.S.A and the entire world. Damage caused by termite infestation maybe so dangerous for a house structure as well as a garden, that’s why you should know about the potential damage that can be caused by tree termites maybe you will start inspecting your garden regularly:
Damage that can be caused by tree termites:
- Tree disease: Due to a termite infestation, the tree can suffer from a disease or some weakness and it will start by stopping the production (the tree gives no more fruits) because it doesn’t get enough energy to use, the termites take it all. They are like tree parasites.
- The bad looking of your garden: When termites infest a tree, they will make colonies all over the tree main and secondary trunks, so the tree will look like a huge termite nest and loses its green brightness. Besides, the borders of the tree may be all filled with mud mounds and disgusting fecal pellets.
- The tree may fall: The termites gain entry to the tree through its hollow center, so they will occupy the center of the main trunk causing by that a total destruction of the whole tree. When the termites start using the wood inside the tree, it will lose its balance and may fall.
Ways to repair damaged trees:
- Using termiticides: Termiticides are a necessary pesticide to repair trees, I mean you don’t want to cut your tree and remove it from your beautiful backyard, but you want to treat the termites inside it. Well, you must use termiticides by injecting one of them into the holes in the tree trunk, and it will spread through termite tunnels until it kills the whole colony. By that, the tree would be well-treated and termites are gone but you still need a pest control professional to tell you so.
- Pruning infected wood: If the termite infestation is still early, it is better if you prune away the infected wood areas in the tree and try to remove all the locations infected with a termite without removing essential roots or trunks.
Prevention and extermination of tree termites:
Tree termites should be avoided from the beginning following many ways like:
- Placing traps around trees and all over your garden to detect any termite or other invasive insect activity.
- Inspecting trees regularly, especially old trees that may have a large solid trunk and do your inspection very carefully to find a mud tunnel or some holes in the wood or some mud mounds around a tree.
As for extermination, termites should be immediately exterminated if you found any colonies in some of your trees:
- The use of insecticides – or termiticides
- Termite bait stations
- Electronic termite control systems
- Hot and cold treatments via ventilating the holes or injecting liquid nitrogen
- Burning the excessive mulch around the area, a little piece of mulch can carry a whole colony.
Further Resources for Tree Termites
- Fungal Foam Seeks and Destroys Termites – USDA AgResearch Magazine
- Do Termites Eat Cedar Trees? – Mytermitetreatmentcosts.com
- Termites and Orchard Management – Peace Corps Document
- Termite Tree Inspection Tips – LSU AgCenter
- Tree Health Issues: Termites – Texas A&M Forest Service