This is the most impartial and comprehensive post on saving a tree from termites.
In this guide, you’ll learn about how you can save a tree from termites and under what conditions.
It’s because it doesn’t make any sense to put time, effort, and money into saving a tree when the only option you’ve is chopping it down.
In this post, you’ll find out when you must cut down a tree with termites to save other trees and your home from infestation and damage.
Keep reading to know more.
Can You Save A Tree From Termites?
Yes, you can save a tree from termites only when the termites haven’t reached the tree’s heartwood.
Heartwood is the central wood of the tree. It’s the trees’ supporting pillar that stores biochemicals that keep the trees firm and alive.
Consider the heartwood of the tree as your spine. If your spine breaks or ruptures, then you won’t be able to walk. In many cases, you would be dead.
The same is applies to trees.
If termites have penetrated the heartwood, which is their aim, then there’s no option but to cut the tree off.
If you don’t, then the tree can easily fall off with a gust of strong wind. It would cause damage to your property, and it poses a significant risk of physical injuries to dwellers nearby.
But if the termites haven’t reached the heartwood, and they’re only limited to the sapwood, then you can easily save your tree.
To do that, you must spot the early signs of termite infestation and stop the termites from reaching the heartwood.
Early Signs Of Termites In Trees
Termites attack trees from underground. And the species of termites that attack trees are Formosan termites.
Formosan termites, a type of subterranean termites, are invasive, multiply in large numbers, aggressive, and it’s the most dangerous termites in the US.
There are four signs of termites in trees –
The first and the most tell-tale sign of termite infestation in trees is the mud tubes running like veins on the tree branches.
As termites attack the trees from underground, you’d find these mud tubes rising from the ground on the main base trunk of the tree.
These mud tubes will look like splattered mud on the bark. It may give you an impression as someone has done some art with wet clay on the tree.
Mud tubes are tunnels Formosan termites make with the help of the mud and their saliva.
Termites use these tunnels as a channel to travel from one place to another.
As Formosan termites multiply in huge numbers, the average size of their colony is 3-4 times the size of subterranean termites.
That makes them spread in the tree fast.
Termite Holes In Trees
Termites create tiny holes in trees for two purposes.
First, that’s how they enter the tree, and they keep drilling deeper into the tree until they reach the heartwood.
Second, they use these holes to discard their feces and sawdust that comes from drilling.
Poke these holes, and you’d come across termites. You’d find termites that are entirely white or big brown-headed termites with mandibles on them.
The white termites are worker termites. Their job is to feed everyone, including the queen termites.
The giant brown-headed termites are soldier termites. They’re there to defend their colony from an attack, especially from ants.
Termites in trees can also attract ants to your trees. It’s because the ants eat termites.
It can be hard to detect these holes not just because they’re tiny but because these holes are hard to spot on the tree’s bark.
Alive Or Dead Termites At The Base Of The Tree
There’s a thriving nest underneath the soil, at the tree’s base, from where the termites attack the tree.
You’d see termites crawling around the base of the tree because that’s where their nest is.
Take a shovel and dig a bit around the tree’s base. There are 100% chances of finding live termites.
Also, living termites discard the dead termites from the tree holes. That’s the reason you see dead termites on the soil near the tree.
Swarmers Or Flying Termites Around The Tree
Swarmers termites, also known as alates, are winged termites that can fly. Termites develop wings when they’re at the reproductive life stage.
Alates leave their colonies and look for a new home or tree, aka a new place to infest and start a colony.
Once they find it, they mate, they shed their wings, drill into pieces of wood or even trees to establish a new colony.
You may also find the wings of these termites lying around the tree.
Remember, you don’t need to look for all these four signs to ensure that your termite has trees.
Even one sign from the list should ring your alarm bells and put you into action.
Why Trees Attract Termites?
In all honesty, trees attract termites when your tree’s health isn’t good. Hence the termites choose to attack it.
When trees are healthy, the bark and sapwood the tree are hard. That stops termites from causing any damage.
So, if you see termites in trees, then the reason is that you weren’t quick enough to spot the decaying signs of your tree.
Trees That Attract Termites
There are some trees, if they’re not healthy, that are prone to attract termites.
These trees are –
- Fruit trees that grow big. Some examples are mango trees, peach trees, and citrus fruit trees.
- Conifers like pine trees.
- Oak trees.
- Palm trees.
- Maple Trees.
How To Save A Tree That Has Termites?
To save a tree from termites first, you’d need to assess the intensity of termite infestation in the tree.
It means that you’d need to find out if termites have reached the heartwood of the base trunk of the tree.
An arborist is the best person to tell you if the heartwood is still safe.
To find out yourself, you would need to dig through the termite holes on the tree trunk.
If you find the darkest wood inside the tree has termites, it means that termites have infested the tree’s heartwood.
Remember, the heartwood is the darkest colored wood in the tree.
Also, if you find a big hole full of mud on the base trunk, then it’s also a bad sign.
Dig through the mud hole in the trunk.
If you reach the soil through the hollow trunk, there’s nothing much you can do to save the tree.
In either case, there’s only one option. It’s to cut down the tree with termites.
But if you find the heartwood untouched by termites, then congrats!
You can save your tree from termites.
But here’s a catch. Termites have spread to other branches of the tree.
The termites might have reached the heartwood of the branches because the branches are thinner than the trunk.
Therefore, check the big branches for signs of termites, especially mud tubes and termite holes.
Try to peel off the bark from these branches.
If the bark comes off fast and you can get to the heartwood branch without much effort, chop those branches.
To get rid of the termites in trees forever, you would need to get rid of termites not only in the tree but also in the yard.
It’s because treating only the tree without getting rid of the Formosan and subterranean termites living underneath the soil is a half-baked approach.
Termites will infest the tree again.
So, it’d be best if you contact a licensed termite exterminator for the job.
We don’t recommend handling insecticides by yourself to get rid of termites on such a large scale.
You can save a tree from termites if the termites haven’t penetrated the heartwood of the tree.
If termites have reached the heartwood, then cutting down the tree with termite is the only option.
A termite-infested heartwood wouldn’t be able to hold the tree for long. The tree would fall off and can cause severe damage to your property.
It can also put you at risk of grave physical injury.
We’re Mark and Jim, and we’re retired pest controllers who made homes pest-free for more than three decades. We, along with our team of experts, founded this site to give you the pest control hacks that work.