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Do Termites Eat Live Trees?


A termite infestation is the last thing a tree owner wants to happen on their property. Termites wreak havoc when they move into your trees and can create damage to any wood that’s in their path. Though termites are better known to attack dead wood, you may still be wondering if termites eat live trees as well.

Termites are interesting creatures that don’t often think twice about where their next meal will come from. They travel in large packs and can be a threat to both your home and the trees on your property. If you suspect that termites are present in or around your trees, it’s best to enlist the help of local tree professionals, sooner rather than later. Vernon Imel can help you to diagnose issues with your tree and find the right solutions. Still, it’s good to know more about these pesky critters so that you can more easily spot them should they become present on your property.

What Do Termites Eat?

When termites are looking for nutrients to survive, they mostly seek out cellulose. Luckily for them, cellulose is easy to find and is ever-present in nature. This organic compound is found in many natural objects and materials, specifically plants and plant byproducts. When termites are found in the home, they’re known to eat through many paper products and cotton fibers and cause the most damage to the structure of your property. In nature, termites are most known for eating through wood, making them a large threat to trees on your property.

Because cellulose isn’t able to be digested by many other animals or insects, termites are able to enjoy eating in bulk wherever they are. The bacteria and protozoa found in their stomachs allow termites to successfully break down this difficult compound in a relatively short amount of time. That paired with the fact that they usually travel in packs of a few hundred thousand makes their mealtimes a big threat to the surrounding wood structures and trees in the area where you live.

Do Termites Eat Live Trees?

Termites can eat live trees, but they aren’t their first choice. Termites prefer to eat dead cellulose, which is present in non-living wood, such as the wood used in a home structure or that of a dead tree. When you find termites eating in live trees, they’re usually feeding on a part of the tree that is already dead.

Sick trees are also more susceptible to being inhabited by termites, as parts of their structure are usually dead or dying. If you find termites have infested your live tree, it may be a sign that the tree wasn’t as healthy as you originally thought. It may also alert you to the fact that there are dead trees surrounding your living trees, and the termites may have just been in proximity while feasting on nearby dead wood.


What Are the Signs of Termite Infestation?

Termites aren’t always easy to find. The colony moves quickly but will definitely leave behind signs of their presence. Knowing the signs of a termite infestation is a great way to protect nearby trees from becoming the next victims of a termite colony. It can also help you save a tree that hasn’t been too badly damaged by termites already.

The base of your tree is a good place to start when it comes to looking for signs of termite damage. As termites bite their way into dead areas of a tree, they often drop wood shavings that collect around the base. A base that has a good amount of wood shavings or termite wings around it can be a sign that a colony has recently made a meal of your tree.

Another way to tell if termites are present in your tree is to do a visual inspection of the trunk. Look for tiny holes in the wood, piles of carcasses on the ground around the tree, or small white eggs. You can also look for mud shelter tubes that are climbing the trunk of the tree. Termites build those mud tubes to keep them from being exposed while they attack and also to maintain the moisture around them.

Can My Tree Be Protected from Termites?

Though it can be difficult to protect trees from termites that have already introduced themselves to your trees, there are a few things you can do to make your trees less appealing to termites. Because termites prefer dead trees, or dead portions of live trees, keeping your trees as healthy as possible is a good way to prevent termites from coming. Removing dead portions of healthy trees through pruning services and removing those dead portions from the surrounding area can be helpful.

Treating the area with proper termiticides is another way to block termites from taking certain routes to your tree. One thing that’s certain is that you cannot save a dead tree from termites. Knowing when your tree is beyond repair is a good way to help protect other trees from suffering the same fate.

Know When to Seek Help

When a tree has been too badly damaged by termites, there’s very little that can be done to save it. Termite-infested trees can become hollow and more prone to falling, especially during storms. A falling tree can damage other trees and potentially harm you or your property. Though it’s tempting to stay away from trees damaged by termites, the best way to move forward is to have the tree removed from the property.

Safe tree removal can be performed by local tree professionals like Vernon Imel. They have the proper equipment to take down your tree without harming any other parts of your property. Along with removing your trees, you should also look into stump removal when it comes to termite-infested trees. Removing the infested area completely is the best way to ensure that no other trees in the area will be affected by termite damage.