The tell-tale signs of a termite infestation are all too easy to notice: holes in the wood from their tunnels and a familiar sawdust-like substance surrounding the infested area. You may also notice small ant-like creatures that are white; those are actually termites. Often, these pests will move into the stump of an already-dead tree and take up residency there.
You may be tempted to think, “What’s the harm?” The tree has already fallen, and it’s not like you’re using the stump for anything. However, there’s nothing confining the termites to just the tree stump. They could easily spread into your home or to other trees nearby. That’s why, when you notice a termite infestation, it’s important to take action. Here’s what to do when you have termites in a stump near your house, porch, healthy trees, or other structures you’d like to keep safe from pests.
Recognizing the Signs of a Termite Infestation
Termites are very similar in appearance to ants, so it’s important to learn to differentiate between the two. Note that a dead tree stump can become infested with carpenter ants, which can cause harm in their own way. So if you discover that your stump is full of ants, and not termites, you aren’t necessarily in the clear.
If the insects that are crawling around your stump appear to be white ants, though, that means that they are not ants after all, but termites. Termites are white, but ants are never white. Termites also have straighter antenna than ants and wider midsections.
Termites leave other tell-tale signs, alerting you to their presence, whether or not you can see the insects themselves. If your tree stump is surrounded by sawdust, for example, then you’re likely dealing with termites, as this is leftover from the tunnels they create. Small brown droppings can be another dead giveaway that there are termites in your tree stump.
Figure Out How the Stump Is Attracting Termites
Termites aren’t likely to attack healthy trees near your home. The fact is, living plants don’t interest them that much. They’ll see dead wood, on the other hand, as a feast, and nothing is more delectable than a tree stump, which has dead roots that extend under the earth and provide an easy entrance for pests.
The root system is a big part of the reason tree stumps, in particular, pose such a huge risk to your home. Those underground roots can lead anywhere, providing termites a potential bridge to the structures of your home. Tree roots can also squeeze their way through concrete and other barriers. That means termites can get through as well.
Learn What Kind of Termites They Are
There are two types of termites to watch out for: subterranean and drywood. As their name suggests, drywood termites prefer conditions with less moisture, meaning they’re commonly found in attics and other arid places in the home. An old, dried-out tree stump also serves as an ideal home for this particular species of termite.
Subterranean termites prefer soft, rotten wood, meaning that they’ll appear in tree stumps that haven’t been decaying for very long. They have much greater range than drywood termites, as their colonies send out swarms of winged pests.
While neither species is one you want rooting around in the beams of wood that make up your home, it’s subterranean termites that are by far the most damaging. Indeed, they cause millions of dollars in damage every year and can be a nightmare to get rid of. If you have a stump more than 20 feet away from your home, you may—possibly—be safe if it is infested with drywood termites. If, however, you are dealing with subterranean termites, you’ll want to deal with it no matter what the distance is.
Consider Pesticides, But Be Careful
A liquid pesticide, such as Bora Care, may help eliminate the problem. If you simply spread it around the affected area, it should work to kill the pests. You can also attempt to place traps around the stump. These contain pesticides that the termites will carry to the whole colony, potentially killing every termite in the colony and not just the ones hiding in your tree stump.
Remember, pesticides come with a few risks of their own. Chiefly, they can pose a danger to children and pets, as well as potentially killing off beneficial insects that are working to keep the plants in your yard alive.
Another option is to treat the soil around the stump. This can help prevent the termites from leaving the stump, ultimately starving them. However, it’s important to note that winged termites will not be stymied by this method.
Removing the Stump
Often, your best option is to remove the infested tree stump. Termites in a stump near your house can easily spread. Even if you eliminate them, there’s no guarantee you won’t have more termites in the stump within a matter of months. That’s why your best option may be to remove the stump. Do this with care, however: if you do it incorrectly, the colony of termites may simply flee, taking refuge inside of your home when you’ve uprooted theirs. Many homeowners make the mistake of burning the stump to remove it. While this is a tried-and-true method of removing stumps, it can cause termites to immediately start seeking a new home.
Your best option for dealing with termites in a stump near your house is to contact a professional tree service. They’ll be trained to remove a stump in a safe and effective manner. They’ll also help remove or decompose the roots that are left underground. As we’ve already mentioned, termites use these to access the wooden support structures of your home.
When looking for a professional tree service, make sure you do some research. Read about whether the service you’re considering is well-reputed. If you’re in the Oregon Coast area, Vernon Imel Tree Service is your best bet. Their professionals are highly trained and will remove termite-infested stumps at a reasonable cost and without putting your home at risk.