Termites chomp away on wood, but what they really like is the cellulose in the wood, which is abundant in many living things on Earth. In fact, cellulose is one of the main components that make up plants, including trees, which is where wood comes from. Wood is a primary source of building materials and is also used for making paper products, which means that cellulose is a very important substance to humans. We even have it in the foods we eat.
Do termites attack and eat living trees?
Termites are not interested in eating the wood of a living tree because they only want to eat dead cellulose. If you see termites attacking a living tree it means that for some reason the cambium layer or pith of the tree has died. In this case you need to call a tree doctor to come and find out what is causing your tree to die off in parts.
How can I tell if my tree has a termite infestation?
If you look closely at a tree that has been infested by termites, you will see tiny holes where they bore into the wood, along with the wood shavings they left behind. These tiny holes will be at the bottom of the tree, right where the roots are, just beneath the soil line. Shovel the dirt away to take a close look, because that’s where they’ll be if they’ve invated your tree. Colonies of Formosan termites can get so big that you may even see discarded termite wings and carcasses laying around. Other signs of termites would be tiny white termite eggs, shelter tubes along tree trunks, and swarm “castles,” which they build inside the scars on trees.
A termite infested tree is a serious hazard because they’re eating the wood (tree) from the inside, which can make the tree very unstable and too weak to support itself. This can happen with no one noticing and when the tree falls down it can seriously hurt someone standing nearby. If the fallen tree damages a neighbor’s car or property in any way, there could be legal or liability issues.
If you have trees on your property you should inspect them for any signs of termites. If you look at the trunk closely you may see mud tubes arising from the ground. These are hard to see because they’re often hidden in cracks or creases in the bark.
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Are there any treatments for a termite infested tree?
Termite infested trees can often be treated with foam termiticide injected into holes drilled into the termite galleries to kill off the termites. The foam will spread throughout the hallow galleries that have damaged those areas of the tree.
Termite damaged trees can also be treated by applying special wraps that act like a shield or artificial bark to protect the tree. This will prevent fungi and insects from attacking the tree, giving it time to heal. Damaged trees can sometimes be saved by pruning off the damaged parts, removing them altogether. Some trees can be helped by reinforcing them with cables or other types of supports. If the damage is so severe that there is nothing that can be done to save the tree, it should be removed for everyone’s safety.