Termites—the infamous pest insect that plagues homes and trees all across the country—have left their telltale signs on your tree. Maybe you’ve encountered them before, or perhaps you know someone who has.
You’ve certainly heard stories of termites that have killed beloved trees before then spread into nearby homes. But don’t get out the ax and gasoline just yet. Here are a few things you can do if you think your tree has termites:
How To Rid Your Homestead of Termites
First, Make Sure It Actually Is Termites
It can be a bit of a challenge to actually recognize termites. Partially, this is because they’re similar in appearance to several other types of insects, including ants. So seeing little, six-legged, winged insects flying about doesn’t automatically mean your tree has fallen prey to a termite infestation.
Termites resemble ants in appearance, with the notable exception of being white or creamy in color. If you notice insects you thought were white ants crawling around near your tree, you’re probably seeing termites. There are no ant species that are white.
There are a few other key differences between termites and ants: ants, for example, have bent antennae, whereas termite antennae are always straight. Ants tend to have narrow waists, whereas those of termites are always much thicker.
You may notice winged termites flying around; these are called swarmers, and they’re both male and female termites that have left the nest and are seeking to establish a new colony.
Ants, of course, can be winged as well. Both species of insects have two sets of wings, although termite wings are slightly different. With termites, both sets of wings are the same size, a notable difference from ant wings, where one set is larger than the other.
The Other Signs
Of course, having a termite infestation in your tree doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll actually see the pests at all. Often, these insects are particularly good at remaining hidden, at least during the day. You will, therefore, have to learn to recognize the signs of termites in and around your tree.
Drywood termites—one of the more common species—leave droppings known as frass around the areas where they’ve taken up residence. These droppings, which take the form of dark, powdery material, are a clear indicator that your tree has termites.
If you suspect there’s a nest of termites living in your tree, you’ll want to look around the roots of the tree and even dig a little to look under the soil. Many termite colonies live directly beneath the soil and in the roots of a tree.
You may see wings, which are shed by termites that no longer need them, and you may notice dead termites lying around the base of the tree. There may also be small white eggs, scars on the surface of the tree, or shelter tubes that the termites have constructed in the trunk.
When an infestation has become particularly advanced, you’ll notice that the wood of your tree has become weak and feels papery. This is because the termites, which eat wood from the inside out, have devoured part of the wood. If you knock on the wood itself, it may produce a hollow sound. This is a bad sign because it means the termites have seriously damaged part of your tree.
Destroying the Nest
If you notice any of the signs of termites in your tree, you’ll need to respond immediately. If the infestation is allowed to become too advanced, not only can it kill the tree, it can also leave the termites free to move into your home and begin devouring the wood in your walls and floorboards.
You’ll need to take any action against the nest with great care. If any termites escape your attempt to exterminate them, they may move on and establish a new colony in another tree or inside your house.
If you notice any parts of your tree that have become dead or seriously diseased, that wood will need to be removed and burned as quickly as possible.
You should also apply some kind of termiticide to any part of the tree that’s displaying signs of infestation. This will kill off the termites as they crawl across the tree. Or you can look to experts like termite treatment Michigan to handle the termites for you.
You can also spray termiticide on the roots and the area immediately surrounding the tree. It’s also possible to purchase termite traps and place them around the tree. This can also help to kill off the infestation before it becomes too advanced.
If you’re pruning diseased parts of your tree or applying termiticide, this should be done with great care. Pesticides can, of course, pose a threat to beneficial insects, as well as pets, children, and other wildlife in the area.
Removing tree branches and limbs without care can also render the situation worse, potentially even killing the tree. In most cases, it’s usually best to The Local Tree Experts, or Mr. Tree and have the job done professionally.
Preventing Further Infestation
Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and you should take a few steps to make it more difficult for termite colonies to establish themselves in your tree in the future. There are a few preventative measures you can take to render an area less friendly to termites.
Termites require moisture, like most pest species, so you can reduce sources of water that the tree itself doesn’t need. Dripping faucets and other leaks should be fixed, as the additional water can draw in termites and other pests. You will also want to carefully monitor the tree, as well as any surrounding areas so that you can nip any potential infestation in the bud.
If you have firewood, store it at least 20 feet away from your trees. Wood from unknown sources can have pests, which can migrate to your tree.
Perhaps the best preventative measure you can take, however, is to have regular inspections performed by a professional arborist such as Mr. Tree. Your tree professional can locate and remove any signs of termites or other pests before they become a serious problem, as well as take other steps to ensure your tree is as healthy as possible.
Termites are no fun at all but by following the tips above, you can rid your homestead of these pesky, damaging creatures once and for all.