How to Treat Termites In Pine Tree?
You hear a lot about termite problems in certain climate areas.
They destroy property, bringing money loss on repair costs.
But can they eat a living tree? For example, do termites eat pine trees that is growing next to your house?
If it can be infested what should you do about it?
- Can termites eat a living tree?
- What are the signs of the tree infestation?
- Why you shouldn’t just let them be?
- How to treat the infested tree?
- What to do with the tree after the infestation?
- Useful articles
- Helpful video
Can termites eat a living tree?
Yes, and no, there’s one question to answer – which termites we’re talking about.
You will find a lot of people saying that termites can eat only dry dead wood and they will not be in the core of a healthy tree.
This people are right, if they live in the climatic zone where only drywood termite species live.
Drywood termites eat and inhabit only dry and dead wood, this is true. They don’t need and don’t like moisture. This is the specie that can form a colony in a piece of furniture, in the door or window frame, in untreated structural timber.
They will not be inside a living tree, so, before you ask yourself if you have termites in the pine tree, check which species of termites live in your climate.In states like Florida, the answer to this question will be different. This is a place where subterranean termites are usual household guests. Those species have absolutely different habits then drywood termites.
First of all, they absolutely need moisture for survival. This is why they live in soil, under the ground, where they can get enough water and stay protected from the sun.
If you have an infestation inside your house, it means that the subterranean workers are visiting your structure, but they don’t live in it. Usually, those ones don’t go higher than the ground floor in the building.
So, this termite species can find a pine tree to be interesting, maybe not for eating, but for nesting in its soft core. It guarantees enough moisture around and protection from the outside influence.
Usually, they enter the tree through its roots and slowly move up to the trunk, hollowing the tree on the way up, as the colony grows.
What are the signs of the tree infestation?
There’re couple of things you should check if you suspect that there are termites in pine tree. First of all, you should look carefully around the trunk, especially in lower part, for some mud tubes.
Those are the covered corridors subterranean termites build to travel without being exposed to the sunshine.
They are made of chewed cellulose and the grey color of it should stand out of brown shade of pine bark. Most probably they will be concealed in the crevices.
You also might find hollowed wood right under the layer of bark.
Remove couple of bark scales and try to stick the screwdriver in the soft wood under it. If the wood structure is compromised, you will notice it immediately.
Another thing to check are the roots of the tree. Usually, if you just dig the soil in couple of places next to the roots you will find the termites, or even their eggs. In the swarming period you will certainly see if the winged alates are emerging from under the ground next to the pine.Now, when you found some kind of insects around your tree, don’t panic straight away. Are those surely termites? Check for their body shape. The termites, though seemingly related to ants, are, in fact, descendants of cockroaches, so their body doesn’t have a waist like the ants’ does.
Also the antennas of termites will be straight, in comparison to elbowed ones of ants. Now, if you are sure that the pests you’ve found are termites, should you actually do anything?
Why you shouldn’t just let them be?
There’re two good reasons to put some effort into the pine tree treatment:
- Active colony.
- Weak tree.
You surely don’t want and active termite colony thrive somewhere on your land. As I mentioned, mostly the subterranean termites use pine tree as a nesting place, not the main food source.
And who knows how long it will take them to start foraging on wood in your building. So, once you have detected the infestation, you should do your best to destroy the colony as soon as possible and forget about it threatening your home.
Another reason to take care of the termites in a tree is that with the growth of the colony they remove more and more of the material from its insides, weakening the pine.
This might result in the tree becoming too fragile and falling with the first blow of the wind. Hopefully, not on your house. But still, the falling pine can bring some trouble.
How to treat the infested tree?
The first thing to do is to make sure the tree is still worth saving.
There’re professionals called arborists – they can check the tree vitals and tell you if it can recover after the infestation or the treatment will just delay its death.
If the arborist finds out that big part of the tree trunk is hollowed, he will recommend you to cut it down. If this happens, don’t forget to treat the stump as well.
Now you can use several methods:
- Liquid insecticide.
- Foam termiticide.
Liquid termiticide in this case better be used as a soil treatment technique. All you need to do is to make a trench around the tree base and pour the needed solution in it. Usually, it creates the barrier, crossing which termites get some poison on them and bring it back to the colony.
It also has strong residual effect and will protect the tree for some time after. The most popular product that house owners recommend for this is Termidor, but you should be careful about this kinds of chemicals. They pose some danger to the environment and should be used with all the necessary precautions.Important! To use Termidor you will need to hire a professional pest control operator, certified specifically to work with it.
Another way to use the liquid insecticide is to spray it on the trunk of the tree. But this way is better to use for prevention of the infestation and it won’t be very efficient of you already got one.
If you want to try to inject the termicide inside the tree, you should use the foam. They can be available in aerosol cans for the DIY treatments, or the professionals with the foaming equipment can make any liquid termiticide into foam, Termidor included.
For foam injection you’ll need to make few holes, to break into the nest and them push the foam inside.
The best is to use the one that has no repellent action, so it’s delayed poisoning destroys the colony for good. Otherwise, the ones that kill on contact may not reach the deeper galleries of the nest, letting the colony to rebuild again.
Another way of dealing with the infestation is to place the baits around it. At first you can use them without an insecticide to monitor termite activity on your soil.
Then, when the infestation becomes obvious, you will add the termiticide into the baits, so the foraging workers bring it back to the colony and share it, killing everyone in the nest in a matter of days.
Here you can learn more information about effective termite control remedies: Bora-Care, Boric acid, Borate, Fipronil, Chlorpyrifos, Chlordane, Borax, Timbor, Termidor, Terminator, Phantom, Lorsban, Biflex, Terro. You can choose different forms, such as – foam, liquid, powder.
What to do with the tree after the infestation?
This will depend of how much damage the pine took. If it’s hollowed and has weakened structure, you might need to reinforce it by adding a metal supportive structure. Otherwise, the tree might heal itself if you give it some time.There’re special materials available for the trees to be wrapped in, to repel insects and fungi. The use of it can make the healing process easier.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- How to treat them at home and in the yard: in wood or in fence. How long this process lasts and what is pre-construction and soil treatment?
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings and is it toxic to humans? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like, swarming season and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
- You can prevent the infestation by using barriers, such as: HomeGuard, Physical systems, Safeguard, Stainless steel mesh, Kordon.
- If you want to get rid of termites naturally, learn more about such methods as: heat or cold treatment, orange oil, using nematodes.
Video of the pine tree completely infested with termites and eaten up:
Now, let me repeat one more time: if you found a tree infested with termites in close proximity to your house – deal with it.
Subterranean termite is a dangerous neighbor and you should do everything to get rid of it. Even if you choose to cut the tree, the treatments have to follow.