Signs of Termites in Trees and How to Practice Safe Pest Control

Termites infest all varieties of trees, but many prefer dead trees or a moist tree trunk in some cases. Some types prefer drywood, so it is vital to be thorough when inspecting your home for potential pest problem areas and signs of termite activity. We’ll also go over the various methods to treat infected trees and ways to prevent termite colonies from choosing your yard to call home. 

5 Signs of termites in trees

  1. Tiny holes or “termite holes” throughout the tree wood and a tree’s trunk are signs of termite damage; it’s essential to see if it is extensive damage sooner rather than later, as you don’t want them “infecting” other trees on your property. 
  2. You will find wood shavings and bark at the tree’s base where the termites dug wood out of the tree, stump, log, etc. 
  3. Termites don’t get rid of their dead, so you’ll see dead carcasses lying on the soil at the tree’s base. Dead termites are a clear indication of an infestation of these pests. 
  4. Signs of termites in treesDiscarded termite wings around wood from the secondary reproductives (the flying termites or swarmers that resemble winged ants) shedding their wings to be a new colony indicates a termite infestation.
  5. Termites that dig will safely build mud tubes or tunnels up from the ground to access wooden frames or dead wood. So you will see mud tubes/tunnels against trees, tree stumps, and different types of wooden structures (including your home). 

After cutting down a tree, how to prevent termites: Is your home at risk from a termite infestation?

It is crucial to treat tree trunks or stumps with insecticide or boric acid mixed with water, especially as fall approaches. It is essential not to burn a tree stump currently infested with termites as it won’t kill the colony where the subterranean termites live. The remaining termites will quickly replace their missing numbers and search out a new food source: is your house nearby? That’s the next source for termite activity. 

prevent termites near your homeTermites will go to the nearest wood source that best suits their needs, as different termites eat different types of wood, mainly whether or not the wood is dry or moist. Therefore, if you have an old wooden foundation that has not been maintained, you would be wise to inspect for signs of termites and damage, especially in dark areas where there could be a lot of moisture present. Termites need an environment like that to survive. 

Don’t just check areas with moisture, as there are varieties of termites that eat drywood (drywood termites), so all wooden structures are free game for termite food if left untreated. Even check your home’s tree’s health for signs of termites. 

Termite Tree Damage (Pictures)

Termite Tree Damage wardrobe damaged by termites

Five most effective methods to get rid of termites off your tree

  1. Termite bait, made of cellulose and a slow-acting poison, has constantly been one of the most popular methods of treating a termite infestation due to its effectiveness. The bait is taken by a termite back to the colony, where it spreads a slow-acting insecticide that kills them when they try to molt
  2. Spraying with a liquid termiticide is another effective pest control method. It is a literal liquid barrier that protects your house and garden from termites and kills existing termites instantly. Be careful about spraying near any water source – you will poison that water.
  3. There is a type of insecticide: a foam you spray into the tree to kill termites instantly. However, you must remember several safety considerations, such as wearing gloves, eye protection, and a mask to prevent breathing in any aerosol byproduct. 
  4. Nematodes are a popular natural termite pest control as they are a natural parasite to termites. The colony will die from the inside as the nematodes burrow into the termites and release a deadly toxin. The termites should all be dead within a few days. You can buy these garden-friendly nematodes in most garden stores or online, and many people like to surround their houses with these beneficial worms. 
  5. Sometimes you have to accept that some of the branches of a tree can’t be saved. These you will want to remove and immediately burn to lessen the number of termites you have left to remove. 

Frequently asked questions

Do termites eat live trees? 

While uncommon, there are one termite species that feast on the living, healthy trees: the Formosan termites. Formosan termites are known to act quickly on a tree, so you too must treat the infestation as fast as possible if you want to try to save your tree. The Formosan termite will feast mainly on living trees, leaving a hollow trunk in their wake.

Termites in trees can travel from eating the tree to eating your home! Therefore, it is important to immediately treat the termite pest problem to protect your house from these destructive pests. 

It is imperative to treat these trees as quickly as possible, as there may be a chance of saving the tree. It may require some pruning, but most trees can survive a pest attack. 

Even if the tree has no chance, or it’s a decaying tree, you should still treat it to avoid the termite infestation from spreading and practice termite control, especially from spreading closer to your home. 

Can a tree with termites be saved, especially from subterranean termites?

That depends on how extensive the damage was done, and at what point were the termites killed? Worker termites are busy 24/7 because they don’t sleep, so they work quickly on wooden structures, including your home. 

Can you prevent termites on your property? 

prevent termites on your propertyAbsolutely! By maintaining your lawn, keeping the weeds away, and removing fallen trees, you remove any potential safe areas for termite colonies to rest. Be sure to remove any brush or piles of leaves or vegetation, and don’t leave waterlogged wood lying about your lawn. If you don’t remove that tree brought down in a storm, you’re asking for a termite colony to call that place home.

The trees termites will infest tree after tree if left untreated and will even get into your home, so it’s crucial to stop the problem as soon as you find it. 


Whether you choose to use chemical treatments, natural treatments, or a mixture of the two, there is always the safe option of choosing to call a pest control professional to handle the situation safely. These folks are used to taking care of termite infestations and know best how to remove them and maintain termite control. They can even inspect your house and determine the extent of the termite infestation, so they are worth the evaluation alone. 

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