As the weather begins to warm up from the winter chill, homeowners all over the world find themselves in fear of termite season. You might see these pesky bugs in the air, flying in a mob from one area to another, searching for a place to live. The last thing you want is for them to decide that your home looks like a cozy place to nest!
Termites thrive on dead, rotting wood, so if you have any dead trees in your yard, you may be attracting termites. It’s important to clear out any unnecessary wood from immediately around your home. Otherwise, you may find yourself on the hook for repairing expensive termite damage.
Though termites are active all year round, they are known to expand their nests during the warmer spring and summer months. In this article, we’ll provide everything you need to know about what termites eat and how to keep them from adding your house to the menu.
Do Termites Live in Dead Trees
Termites make their homes in both moist soil and damp wood. This means that with even a little access to moisture, termites can make their home in dead trees.
The entire life cycle of the termite is focused on the overall success of the colony. While each individual termite represents a small threat to the health of your home, it’s the overall colony itself that you should be most concerned about.
Each termite begins life as an egg. From here, the termite becomes a nymph, or young termite. At this stage, the termite is focused on eating as much as possible, growing into a full adult. As the nymph grows into an adult, it takes on a certain, specific role within the colony: either a worker, a soldier, a reproductive, or, in rare cases, a queen.
Workers focus on building the colony– often within dead trees around your home– while soldiers protect that colony. As you might guess, reproductive termites build the size of the colony by producing more termites. When the colony grows too large for its habitat, half the colony branches off in a swarm, taking a new queen with them in search of another, roomier home.
During termite season, it’s not unusual to see swarms of termites filling the sky as they travel from one home to another. To see if a swarm has identified your yard as a possible nesting site, it’s valuable to recognize the signs.
How to Know if You Have Termites in Your Trees
To see if termites have nested in your trees, your first step should be to check for damage and holes. When nesting, termites drill tiny holes to penetrate to the protected inner layer of a tree. Most termites start at the base of the tree, closest to the moist soil, so in most parts of the world, that is the best place to check.
However, if you live in incredibly humid environments, this nesting process can begin at any point in the tree’s surface.
To hide from sunlight and possible predators, termites may create “mud tubes.” These tubes look exactly as their name might imply: tubes of rusty-colored mud that runs in narrow tubes along the surface of deadwood. If you spot these tubes, you might have a termite problem.
Do Tree Stumps Attract Termites
Tree stumps attract only two species of termites: dampwood termites and subterranean termites. Dampwoods aren’t much of a concern because they don’t survive on the land. They need areas with high levels of moisture, which they won’t find in your garden or backyard if you make sure to keep everything dry.
So, they’ll usually stay on the stump for a few days before fleeing the scene, trying to find another area of high moisture. In this case, an infestation is super unlikely to occur.
We can’t say the same about subterranean termites, though. These guys pose a serious risk of a backyard infestation. Although they, too, require moisture, they can travel underground and access the soil to get it. Dampwood termites don’t have the same abilities.
Reasons You Should Remove Tree Stumps From Your Yard
Termites aren’t the only reason you should remove tree stumps from your backyard. There are multiple other reasons to do so.
- Lawn mowing will be a bit challenging when you have an ugly stump decorating your lawn. Plus, your mower may get damaged if you hit the stump by mistake.
- The stump will eventually start to decay, and it won’t be a pretty sight. It may also emit an unpleasant odor. Generally, that’s not something you’d like in your backyard.
- You won’t be able to plant new trees in the area surrounding the stump because of the far-reaching roots.
- Tree stumps don’t only attract termites but also beetles, bugs, and all kinds of critters.
How Do You Get Rid of Termites in Trees
To get rid of termites in trees, you can stop this colony from spreading throughout your yard by getting your yard professionally treated. Popular options include Terminix, Orkin, and any number of smaller, local services.
If the infestation is smaller, you can also attempt to kill termites using home treatments. Most pest control stores sell products to kill colonies, but these poisons can also be dangerous to small children or pets.
Because of these risks, many turn instead to essential oils like orange and neem oil, which kill colonies slowly by interfering with their ability to reproduce.
To create a homemade, essential oil-based solution, mix 10 drops of oil and a few drops of dish soap with roughly two cups of water. Spray this solution on the surface of an infested tree a few times a week to remove the colony over time.
Will Dead Tree Roots Attract Termites
Because dead tree roots are close to the moist soil, they make the perfect environment for termite colonies. To prevent these roots from attracting termites, remove the entire stump and root system.
Root removal can be messy and time-consuming, but the process itself is fairly easy. The two easiest options would be to either dig these roots up or burn them away.
Visit your local hardware store to buy products that can help ease this process: root saws, chemical treatments, and fire starters.
Can These Termites Spread to Your Home
Just as termites can create a comfortable space for themselves among dead trees, roots, and firewood, they can easily get just as cozy inside your home.
Once termites begin nesting within your home, the damage is immediate and can be incredibly expensive.
Termites thrive in damp wood, meaning that basements and areas of your house most vulnerable to humidity can become their first targets. Over time, they can even attack your wooden furniture!
To protect your home, it’s important that you keep an eye on the state of your yard and surrounding environment. When you see a swarm or notice signs of termite infestations, take immediate action.
If you live in an area particularly vulnerable to termite infestations, you may consider taking precautionary measures. By investing in a regular pest control service, you can ensure that termites never even have a chance to start colonizing your property!
Termites can be a nuisance, but they don’t have to inevitably lead to home damage. If you keep an eye on the trees in your yard, you can make sure that you catch termites before their colonies grow too large. All you have to do is recognize the signs and take action when necessary!