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 can become totally damaged and useless over time.
The termites that live in trees are sometimes called “tree termites” and can be just as dangerous as “house termites.” They can ruin your entire garden in several years and they can spread to your home after they're done munching on the trees around your property.
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 type of termite 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 living trees because trees are considered a suitable and abundant source of food for them. 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 infestations can be dangerous for a house or structure as well as your garden. Knowing about the potential damage that can be caused by tree termites may lead you to start inspecting your garden more regularly. So, let's get into the different ways tree termites can cause damage to your property.
Damage that can be caused by tree termites:
- Tree disease: Due to termite infestations, trees can suffer from disease or weaknesses, causing them to slow their production. This causes trees to bear less fruits or seed, because the trees don't get sufficient energy since the termites are sapping it all. So, in effect, termites are like a tree parasites, except for they give no known benefit to their host—the tree.
- 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.
Okay, we see how detrimental tree termites can be to your home and yard, but what can we do about it? Don't worry, there are reliable methods of dealing with tree termites, and, thankfully, they are typically easier to control than home or building termite infestations.
Ways to repair damaged trees:
- Using termiticides: Termiticides are a necessary pesticide to repair trees. I mean, if you don’t want to cut your tree and remove it from your beautiful backyard, you need to treat the termites inside it. To do so, you must injecting termiticides into the holes of the infested tree trunk, and the temiticide will spread through termite tunnels until it kills the whole colony. This process works well for treating trees against termites, but I would still request a pest control professional to conduct a thorough inspection of your trees, even if you go the DIY route.
- 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