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Termites are one of the most common infesters in any garden. If you ever experience regular occurrences of damage in your wood fixtures and you find yourself constantly cleaning up traces and tracks of tiny wood shavings, termites might be tearing your home slowly. They love the presence of wood that sustains the colony.
Termites can grow big in population. They work in thousands and can go through full wood damage of one home in a year. This translates to about millions of dollars in damage to all termite infestations in Australia. Take this into serious consideration if you want to maintain your property well. These tiny critters can put a huge chunk out of your budget if they go unnoticed and untreated.
Termites have been around for millions of years. Building colonies is crucial in their successful infestations. What they lack in sense of sight, they make up in numbers. Can you believe that the majority of the termites that cause too much damage in the wood are blind pests?
Trees and woody shrubs are in danger with the presence of termites. Protect your tree in the backyard and put them away from danger with prevention tips that keep these tiny insects at bay. There are effective methods that prevent termites from killing your tree in the backyard. You don’t need the burden of infestations in your comfort zones. Let these tips guide you in keeping your property termite-free for a long time.
General Information About Termites
Termites are insects that cause damage in houses and establishments due to their ability to consume wood endlessly. Their primary diet consists of wood. These insects are often mistaken for ants as they seem to share a lot of characteristics from afar. As ants have a caste system and live in colonies, termites share this behaviour with ants. Termites are so likened to ants that they are dubbed as “white ants.”
Physical characteristics of termites
Termites’ physical characteristics vary depending on their species and position in their natural caste system. Even so, they share general characteristics common to all species of termites.
- Length: anywhere from ¼ to ½ inch
- Colours: ranges from off white, brown and black
- Antennae: straight, unlike ants that bend at a 90-degree angle
- Body: soft
- Wings: wings with the same equal length, unlike ants that have bigger front wings than hind wings
The caste system of termites
Termites follow a caste system that differentiates their specific roles in the colonies. Different termite roles in the colony mean different physical characteristics and body structures. A soldier termite doesn’t look the same as a worker termite. Likewise, alates look different as they have wings, unlike other termites.
- Worker termites are soft-bodied, wingless termites that work for the colony. They usually appear lighter in colour than any other caste. Workers labour the most to keep the colony going. Their responsibilities include foraging (finding food), storing food, maintaining the nest. Workers also take care of the young and groom other termites in the caste.
- Soldier termites are soft-bodied termites with enlarged heads that are usually darker than worker termites. They have powerful jaws for protecting the colony. Soldiers defend the tunnels and the nest. Worker termites feed them. They cannot feed themselves due to their enlarged heads and blocking jaws.
- Alates or flying termites are reproductive termites that have wings. This class of termites are usually confused with flying ants. The wings are equal in length and have straight antennae and abdomen too. Their main role is to swarm out of the colony to form new colonies. Alates don’t keep their wings forever. They lose it after settling down to build their new colony. Consider alates as future Queens and Kings of new colonies.
- King and Queen termites were former alates that flew around in peak swarming season. They lose their wings once they land and they start to form colonies of their own. The existence of secondary and tertiary queens exists in a farther but connected satellite to expand the colony. King termites are only second to Queen termites in the hierarchy.
Most active season of termites
Termites have peak seasons. Most termites swarm and reproduce the most during spring and summer. Warmer conditions are more attractive to termites. Termites go out less in colder conditions. Make no mistake. They can still cause damage to trees all year long. Their peak seasons are only their prime for filling in the colony and preparing for possible issues in the colony.
Termites versus ants
As they are hailed as “white ants” it can be hard to distinguish termites from actual ants. Apart from differing physical appearance, termites and ants have different behaviours to help you in spotting them inside your home. By knowing which critter is currently in your home, you can plan out treatments and practices to prevent their further destruction in your property.
- Termites consume wood. Ants don’t consume wood, but some types of ants like Carpenter Ants can go through wood faster than termites.
- Termites leave wood trails and mud holes as tunnels and colony transport. Ants leave a pheromone trail that other ants follow. As such, ant infestations are more visible than termites.
- Termites have male and female sexes in all caste classes. Majority of ants are females with male drones functioning only for reproduction purposes with the Queen Ant, after which it dies.
- Termites are quieter than ants as they have poor sense or no sense of sight to engage in other activities. Ants are more aggressive than termites as they can consume predators like smaller insects and other dead pests. Sometimes, ants become the predator of termites.
Termites go through wood structures for food. It’s their natural habitat. In larger ecosystems in nature, termites are known as natural wood eaters. This is why houses and trees are attractive spots for this pest. Look out for termites within your home structure to prevent further destruction.
How to Prevent Termite Infestation in Trees
Keep these various methods in mind to prevent termite infestation in your property. Prevention is always better than cure. Trees can cost a lot to treat when spotting termites too late. Protect your tree before it succumbs to complete termite consumption.
Landscape space and building space
Planning your layout before residential construction is a good move. Before you plan to build a structure in the property, or grow a tree in the backyard, assign some generous space. Keep your trees and shrubs far from wood structures of the house. This saves your tree and your home and prevents further colonies from moving between the two structures.
Termites can migrate from your homes to your tree. It is best to allocate ample space for your tree in the backyard that is out of reach from your home structures. 18 inches of gap between soil and any wood portions helps divert building termites.
Moist places are optimal conditions for building a colony of termites. Keep the soil dry. Termites thrive in moist, damp spaces so make sure that the soil and ground of your residence as dry as possible. Reducing moisture also means constant residential maintenance checks that include parts and aspects of your home that need good working conditions to prevent damage.
Schedule a maintenance check for your gutters, pipes and drainage systems. Faulty gutters and leaks in the structure are key to establishing a termite colony inside residences. Inspect faucets and water pipes and external Air Conditioner units to fix possible leakages.
These are areas and aspects of your home, but they connect to your gardens. This means that your tree gets affected too. Builders sometimes place drainages and water pipes near trees. Inversely, some trees can grow and develop over your residential water pipes. It becomes easy access for termites.
Keep wood sources away
If there’s wood in your home and you have a tree growing outside, it’s a feast for termites. It will only be a matter of time before migrations and branches of colonies grow from one wood source to another.
If you plan to keep wood for usage in your property, be sure to store it away from your home. Those wood piles can serve as a starting point for termites before they migrate to your home or your trees.
Build some sort of barrier area to prevent termites from migrating via ground. Most wood mulches are attractive to termites for retaining moisture and constant wood sources. Some mulches help repel them. Use a termite-resistant mulch for termites. Some examples of mulches that repel termites are Melaleuca mulch, Cedar mulch, Eucalyptus mulch in spaces near the trees. Resins from some mulches are toxic to termites.
Regular tree maintenance
Trees grow bigger over time. It’s natural for parts of the tree to start in one area far from your home and grow several feet of aerial area towards your home. As such, it’s part of your responsibilities to maintain the tree. You hit two birds with one stone by regular maintenance. One, you groom the tree well. Two, you lessen any possible growing pests that can travel from location to another fast.
Pruning and trimming are beneficial to growing trees in your yard. Prune your tree as a maintenance step and routine check for termite presence. Trim branches of the tree that are getting too close to your home. Branches that are far out and in contact with other wood structures can serve as a migration point and colony space for termites.
Do monthly checks for the presence of termites in trees. Watch out for the signs of their presence. Declining trees attract termites more than living trees, but some species still like feeding on live ones. It’s best to do preventive maintenance before termite infestation becomes an emergency.
You are never too late or too early for a tree maintenance. Reliable experts are always around Sydney to help you in maintaining your tree for top-notch termite protection. Trees Down Under can help you in that aspect. Our expertise in tree services can help you fight off these pests. Is your tree due for a prune or a trim? Call us now at 0475 463 597.
How Do You Know if You Have Termite Infestation
It’s not impossible to spot the existence of termites. They stay hidden and less visible than other insects but they still leave signs and symptoms of their infestation. Keep check of your properties and your trees to lessen the damage caused by termites. Ask yourself some termite-relevant questions.
- Are there wood shavings in some areas of the house? Check any wood piles, wooden structures or wood fixtures for any hollow structures within. Termites go inside wood structures to feed. For example, if you swing your wooden door and notice trails of wood shavings falling, termites might be chewing through it for some time already. Termite infestation often results in saggy floorings and loose wood.
- Am I spending on wood structure repairs? Little costs pile up and accumulate. If you’re always dealing with damaged doors or unstable wood structures at home, you’re missing out on termites that are building home in another area of the house. Talk with the people who maintain your home or repair house damage for possible termites growing along with your wood structures.
- Do I have any existing leaks that leave a moist space? Damp environments attract termites. If you have any existing leaks around your area, check them as soon as you can. Also look out for poor drainage and gutters, faulty pipes and leaking faucets. These aspects contribute to infestations.
- Does my home have any big holes or long deep cracks? Holes and cracks are also termite-prone spaces. Along with any home leakages, check for existing cracks and holes in your home. These cracks can house the most elaborate termite shelter tubes.
- Do I use mulch around the yard? Some mulches like Cypress Sapwood and pine mulches invite termites. Refrain from layering mulches that are more than 2 inches thick. This can turn home to termites as they like moist spaces. Use only termite-repellant mulches to keep your land moist but termite-free.
- Do I have light sources in my property? Termites often swarm. The most visible group of termites that swarm are alates of the flying termites. Light attracts them and they leave a trail of discarded wings sometimes. Garden lights and open spaces often attract alates which is a sign of a nearby colony.
- Is my tree sick? Sick trees decline faster and can become susceptible to more infestation. Look for wood shavings and mud tubes that are present in the tree. If you want to test it out further, drill the middle section of the tree to see if it’s hollow. There should be termites coming out.
- Are there any blowholes and hollow spaces in my trees? Subterranean termites form nests in tree roots and trunks.
- Is my tree regularly maintained? Termites might be far from your home. They might be living and feeding on your tree. Check the health of your tree. Sick trees serve as definite food for termites.
Spotting termites can be a challenge sometimes. They don’t leave more definite signs and symptoms like ants do. They can go through wood structures without you ever knowing most of the time. When they do leave signs, it’s more or less too late as they have gone through most of your wood structure already. Nevertheless, inspect for some changes inside your house and garden areas.
Colonies of termites live in structures as home. This termite tube comes from somewhere. Termites form it over time with wood, saliva and termite feces. If you suspect that there is an active colony nearby, check around for mud tubes that branch out to many areas in the house. They won’t be too hard to miss. These mud tubes serve as a tunnel for transportation that leads to much bigger colony spaces.
Termites in Trees
Trees are natural areas for termites. As it contains a lot of wood for consumption, it becomes an attractive feeding and nesting ground for termites. They serve as a good starting point for growing colonies too.
Subterranean termites feast around trees. This kind of termite likes dead or declining trees as they are easier to digest. The moist soil around the tree roots also serves as a nest for termite eggs and the Queen Termite. Subterranean termites can dig tunnels through the soil to get moisture further expanding and branching their colonies downward.
Dampwood termites like decayed wood as they are moist and easier to digest. Although their colonies are smaller compared to Subterranean termites, this makes them undetected for years. They also thrive with water leaks that come from buildings and establishments. They can live in building establishments. Nonetheless, they infest best in rotting wood. Trees are common locations for Dampwood termites despite not building tunnels like Subterraneans.
Breeding ground for termites
Declining trees or unhealthy trees serve as a food source for termites. Termites are easier to identify in trees as they usually stay there for wood abundance. Trees also serve as quick breeding grounds for termites. Termites usually nest in the ground soil of the tree. It’s best to eradicate them before they turn from hundreds of hardworking termites to thousands in no time. Check for clusters of small, white eggs around the soil of the tree.
Dangers of termites in trees
As termites work around consuming the wood in declining trees, it can be dangerous to you. Sick trees consumed by termites can turn very unstable with weakened branches too. As termites work through consuming the wood from within, the tree becomes more hollow with weak wood in the middle section. This affects your safety as well. Worst case scenario is your tree giving out and falling with somebody nearby.
Termites are fast breeders. Queen termite’s ability to reproduce and build a colony is rapid. Colonies grow exponentially and mature fast. Queen eggs hatch eggs and develop into termites. They turn and develop more before completely turning their position into colony caste.
Termites breed a lot within their lifetime. A typical Queen termite can survive for around a decade reproducing before dying. Weather conditions and optimal wood sources and locations help build the colony. If you ever observe that there are swarms of termites in your home, chances are, they have been rummaging through your wood for months or years at a time.
Trees most prone to termites
Keep these trees into consideration if you’re planning to grow a tree in your garden. You wouldn’t want your tree to become a good starting nest for termites as they migrate towards your home.
The reality is that any tree can be inviting to termites. As wood is their main food source. Trees are wood which makes it a natural food source for the pests. Treat all your trees as a possible breeding ground for termites.
Tree maintenance is essential to protect your tree and home from damaging termite infestations. Missing necessary maintenance checks can lead to more budget blows when termites damage your tree. Termite control is a different cost from saving your tree from dying. Save yourself the trouble from termite infestations.
Trees Down Under is your expert maintenance partner for your trees. You don’t have to make a move before it’s too late to save your tree. We all know that a good tree is beneficial to any home. Don’t share this with damaging pests.
How to Treat Termites in Trees
As termites go through wood, it’s hard to spot them head-on before they destroy some wood in the process. It’s not too late to save your tree. There are various methods and treatments to get rid of termites in the tree in your backyard.
Apply a physical barrier between the tree and the rest of your garden landscape. Steel mesh and sand perimeters help treat termite infestations at home. Apply this physical barrier around your tree. Build as much as a three feet gap between the tree and the barrier to give space to the tree.
Go a further mile and put a termite-resistant mulch in the area to repel the termites from digging tunnels or travelling. As some mulches like Melaleuca mulch, Cedar mulch, and Eucalyptus mulch are toxic to these pests. A physical barrier and a mulch layer around the soil of the roots can drive away termites from building a nest in your tree.
The most common treatment to get rid of termites are chemical treatments. Many products and pesticides have reagents and active agents that help in disposing of termites. They are usually made specifically for trees. Some treatments are for soil applications to prevent the termites from building nests and colonies in the damp composition.
- Termiticide products. Use termiticide products to get rid of active termites from growing into a larger population around the tree. There are many approved products in the market for this. Spray some products around the tree base. Some common active ingredients are Acetamiprid, Chlorantraniliprole, and Chlorfenapyr.
- Termite baits. Set up a termite trap around the tree and wait for the termites to consume. Use wood stake traps for effective trapping. Dispose of them afterwards via controlled fire (only if you have enough experience, don’t do this if you’re not confident enough). For an alternative, use a termiticide to get rid of the termites that are devouring wooden termite trap.
- Wood treatments. There are products you can apply to wood to coat it. This makes the wood less attractive and sensible to termites since they prefer declining wood or dead wood. Wood treatment like Borates is toxic to them.
Some treatments can cause more problems if you don’t apply them properly. Always apply extra precaution and attention when using termiticides and wood treatments. Contaminations of water sources can result from wrong applications of the product. This won’t help in mitigating termites.
Termites go through wood structures and trees quietly. To keep your tree alive and well, it’s best to prevent possible infestations. Termite infestations and breeding in the trees seriously decline the health of the tree. Sick and dying trees are most prone to the infestations and as such, if you’re starting to notice that your tree is not doing well, call Trees Down Under for help.
Termites cause a big problem, especially to first-time tree owners. Be prepared for the big changes and impairment that these little critters can cause. Don’t underestimate the power of these pests. One termite isn’t a big danger, but a colony can go through your tree and home in less time than you expect.
The best way to prepare your home and your tree from possible infestations and destruction is prevention. If you’re in the process of building your homes, plan your areas meticulously beforehand. Preventive measures can also save you a big ton of dollars in contrast to pest control treatments and repair costs from termite damage.
If you’re currently undergoing infestation, it’s not too late to get help from pest control and tree experts. Let the professionals handle your problem so the termite colony goes away in no time.
Trees Down Under is available for you around Ryde and Sydney. We offer all sorts of tree services for residential locations to help with your tree maintenance and prevent possible termite infestation. Keep your home and your tree safe from termites. We are here to help you with that.
Do you want a regular pruning for your tree? Do you need a tree trimming service? We offer these services at affordable rates. Your regular tree maintenance should not be a burden to you. Don’t hesitate to contact us!