Repairing Trees in the Yard Damaged by Termites

In the United States, many homeowners find that termites have invaded a tree in the yard. In many cases, termites attack dead or dying parts of trees. There is one species, the Formosan subterranean termite, which attacks living trees.

Formosan subterranean termites are found along the Gulf Coast and in the Southeastern states. They are found in every state from South Carolina to Texas. They have been found in Southern California and they are common in Hawaii.

Termites in trees can create real hazards. Since termites eat wood from the inside, they can make a tree so unstable that it cannot support itself. If that happens, the tree can fall and cause damage or injury. There could also be liability issues if the falling tree damages a neighbor’s property.

Homeowners should inspect trees for signs of termites. On the trunk, termites often make mud tubes from the ground. These tubes may be hidden in creases or cracks in the bark. Because of that, they may be hard to see.

Homeowners can check pruning scars for termite swarming tunnels. These are soil tunnels that the termites make so the swarmers can fly out of the colony. These swarms usually happen during the spring or summer.

Formosan subterranean termites can often be found in the soil near the base of an infested tree. Homeowners can dig around the roots of a tree with a trowel. If the tree is infested, termites will often be found among the roots.

There are several methods for treating trees that are infested with termites. Homeowners can do some of these treatments. However, many states require that a licensed professional must do some of these treatments.

Some termiticides can be applied into the soil around the tree. Some of these products serve as a barrier to termites. Other products are absorbed into the roots. These products are called "systemic". This means that they move up through the tree and kill termites inside the tree.

Many infested trees can be treated by drilling holes into the termite galleries. Termiticide is injected into the galleries to kill the termites. Many of these treatments are done with foam termiticide. The foam spreads in the hollow galleries throughout the damaged parts of the tree.

Damaged trees can be treated with special wraps. These act like artificial bark. They keep insects and fungi out of the tree so it can heal. Trees that have been damaged can sometimes be pruned to remove the damaged parts. Some damaged trees can be reinforced with supports or cables. Sometimes, however, the damage is so severe that the tree must be removed.