Termites & Palm Trees

Termites search for anything that contains cellulose. The stems of most plants are made of cellulose. Some termites attack grass and other small plants. However, most termites attack large plants, like trees.

In many areas of the world, subterranean termites attack living palm trees. The termites live in the ground. They invade trees through the roots.

However, sometimes termites make a dirt tunnel up the side of the tree. The termites move from the dirt tunnels and invade the trees through the bark.

In the United States, the Formosan subterranean termite is found across the Gulf Coast and the Southeastern States. Besides eating the wood in homes, this termite also attacks living trees.

This destructive pest has been found attacking almost 50 types of trees, including citrus, pecan, wild cherry,
cherry laurel, sweet gum, cedar, willow, wax myrtle, Chinese elm, pines, oaks, and maples.

When Formosan subterranean termites invade a living tree, they eat the wood inside of the trunk. They excavate the inside of the tree and fill it with their nesting material, called carton. The termites make the carton from chewed wood, their droppings, and soil articles.

The Formosan subterranean termites can hollow out the inside of the tree for some distance above the ground. Some trees have been found with termites eating the inside of the lower branches.

Termites weaken the tree when they hollow it out. When there is a severe storm, the high winds often blows down the damaged trees. The falling trees often cause damage when they land on homes and cars. Sometimes the falling trees also injure people.

Homeowners can watch for dirt tunnels from the ground on the side of a tree. If there are any cracks or openings in the side of the tree, they should be examined for evidence of termites. Homeowners can often find Formosan Subterranean termites in the soil near the roots of a tree.

Many homeowners call termite control professional when they suspect that there are termites in a palm or some other type of tree. These experts can identify the termites and provide the proper treatment.

An arborist can make suggestions on repairing a damaged tree. These specialists can make recommendations on strengthening the tree. However, if the tree has been damaged too severely, the arborist might recommend that it be removed.