How to Treat Termites in Palm Trees?

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Every homeowner in southern regions knows about the termites.

That this nasty insect can attack your property, eat all the structural timber and bring destruction to your home and your bank account.

There’re hundreds of pest control offices and termite fighting methods. All this is something people know.

What they usually do not know is that termites do not only attack the houses, but also living trees. Right now I want to talk to you about that beautiful palm tree that grows just in front of your house.

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So lets find out do termites eat palm trees?

Why termites attack a palm tree?

First of all, which termites we are talking about? There’re three main families of this pest:

Surely, that would not be the Drywood termite’s, they nest in and eat only, logically, absolutely dry wood. So, they have no interest in your strong and healthy palm.

Learn more about drywood termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment: spot treatment and DIY methods; how to get rid of them in furniture?

Same as the Dampwood termites. These ones prefer decaying, wet and rotting wood, so those you would with better chance find in the old stump, than the living tree.

We are left with Subterranean termites. These termites live and build their nest in the soil, where they can get enough moisture. Wetness is essential for them, because they are not adapted to extract the water from the wood, like the drywood termites.

Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.

This is why fixing your plumbing is usually one of the first recommendations for your house protection against subterranean termites.

What is their interest with my palm tree, you ask? Well, often it’s not the timber that they like about the palm, but it’s soft, moist and sun protected core. It’s almost a perfect place for them to build a nest.

Why it’s important to fight termites in palm tree?

There two major reasons to take care of the infested tree. First reason is that this will help you to avoid the infestation of your house. If the tree is in nearby your building – it brings termites very close to the structure.

Trust me, it will not take them too much time to figure out where they can forage the best wood. So, unless you think that keeping your fingers crossed will do the trick, you better work on getting rid of the termite nest in your garden.

Sometimes you might think that in your case you shouldn’t be worried, because you’ve done the preventive treatments to protect your house.

Photo 3You’ve done the soil treatment, and wood treatment, and you have monitors with baiting stations every few meters…should you then let little bastards be and live in their tree? Ehm, no.

Think about it – after certain time, the termite colony growing inside the tree core will weaken the trunk.

To build their nest termites chew on the cellulose of the tree and create carton corridors, that are not making the structure any more stable.

After the colony grows enough, it will take just a strong blow of wind to break the tree and make it fall on your, otherwise fully protected, house.

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 are the signs of the palm tree infestations?

Sadly, it’s really hard to see the infestation of the palm tree if it started from below and the termites entered from the roots. Sometimes people were reporting noticing that more and more mud is accumulating on the tree base, if you wash off the mud with garden hose and see the termites – that is it.

Another possibility is that subterranean termites will build the mud tube on the trunk, then you’re lucky and you have noticed the infestation in good time.

If there is a chance to expose the roots without damaging the tree, see If there are small holes like drillings on them, also pay attention if the wood at the base of the palm looks damaged.

Should I cut it or treat it?

It’s quite hard to tell if the tree should be remover or treated. There’re special people for detecting this – tree doctors or arborists. If you’re not sure what to do – call for them. The problem with the palm tree is that it’s basically has just a trunk and no branches, so removing part of the tree is not an option.

If the specialists find that the tree is a goner – cut it and make sure you don’t leave the infested stump in the ground.

How to treat the infested palm tree?

The methods of termite treatment inside a living tree are pretty much the same as the ones for the infested house or timber.

So, here’s what you can do:

  • termiticide barrier;
  • foam or liquid termiticide injection;
  • baiting.

The most popular method of getting rid of the termites in a living tree is to treat the soil around it, to form a protective barrier.

Some of the termiticide, that can be used for this treatment just repel the insects, and are more of a preventive measure, while the others, such as Termidor or Premise, have no smell or taste, so they do not keep termites away.

Instead, they have the poison of the delayed action, that the foraging workers bring inside the nest, after passing through the treated soil, and it kills the whole colony in a matter of days.

Important! Only licensed professionals can use some of the termiticides, for example, Termidor. Without special certification you cannot buy it in US.

For this treatment you’ll need to dig a trench around the tree base in 3-foot radius and pour the insecticide in the solution needed into it. Usually, the strong termiticides, that has Fipronil or other hazardous chemical as the active ingredient can be used only be the specially certified pest operators.

If you use the product that is allowed for the DIY treatment, make sure you read the label and avoid having it washed away into the environment, where it can damage the wildlife.

For the treatment of the tree itself and the termites inside it, you will have to drill small holes, that will let you inject insecticide into the galleries of the nest. Usually the easiest way to reach all the pests inside the palm Is to use the insecticide in foam form.

Those you can find in the form of ready-to-use aerosols (Premise, Spectracide) or liquefied, so you can foam them up with the special equipment. Some of this foams kills on contact; others have delayed poisoning action.

You can also use the liquid termiticide for injecting it inside the trunk. But this will be less likely efficient, because the foam has an ability to expand and fill out even the pace that are deep in the core of the colony. What you can use it for is spraying the outside of the tree for repelling the possible future invaders.

Photo 5One more thing you can do is to install baiting stations around the tree.

The idea of baiting is that the termites start feeding on the bait that is inside the trap (some form of the cellulose) and you can monitor their activity.

When you see that the trap is infested and the workers are constantly visiting it for forage you add the termiticide inside and the workers bring the poison back into the colony which will eventually die.

Renewing the baits placed in your garden, will also give you a way of seeing if any termite activity is going on and start dealing with the infestation before it becomes a real problem.

Here you can learn more information about termite bait systems: Advance, Green, CSIRO, Nemesis, Exterra, Firstline, Terminate. Also find out how to make baits by yourself and how to refill them?

What to do with the tree after?

For the health of the tree you better check with the arborist professional. He will tell you what is a condition of the palm and if it has to be reinforced with some metal constructions to make sure it doesn’t fall.

Sometimes the healing of the tree requires wrapping it in special material that keeps the insects and fungi away and gives the palm some time to recover.

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Helpful video

What does the termite nest look like in palm tree:


Photo 6So, after all that has been said, let me repeat – don’t believe guys on internet that say there’s no possible way the termites can thrive on a living tree.

Termites are different and what is uncharacteristic for one specie is good habit for another.

If you got a palm tree infested in your garden, take care of it. If you’re not familiar with the methods – call the pest control operator and he will do everything for you.

But ignoring an active subterranean termite colony that is nested so close to your home is always a bad idea.

Comments: 2
  1. Jack

    Same as you Nicholas, I will fix my palm tree with a termidor first

  2. Nicholas

    Wow, seriously? I’ve been asking on forums if my palm can be infested with termites and I was laughed out! They all say that if it’s alive it’s not termites but ants, or baby-something. An I was pretty sure they are termites, but they made me sound so wrong, that I decided they are right, I hope it’s not too late to do something for that palm now ((((

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