While most termite species feed on dead wood, there are a few species that feed on live plants and trees. These termites weaken the limbs of the trees, which can cause heavy branches to break during storms. Eventually, the termite damage will be too extensive for the tree to survive.
Formosan termites are a particular threat to trees. In fact, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that more than 30 percent of New Orleans’ live oak trees are infested with Formosan termites. Formosan termites also attack cypress, ash and other types of trees. In 2000, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry began a program to treat publicly owned trees for termite infestation. This program saves the trees and helps decrease termite populations, which reduces the threat of termite infestations in nearby wood structures.
Termite colonies in trees can be treated with liquid termiticide treatments. Termite bait systems also can reduce termite populations near trees. Experts continue to research new techniques and materials to control termite infestations in trees.
A tree’s ability to survive a termite infestation depends on how soon it is treated and the extent of the infestation. If an infestation is noticed and treated early, the tree is likely to survive. If the tree is close to your home, contact an arborist to evaluate the tree’s health and determine if it may fall or break a limb that could damage your house.
How Do I Prevent Termite Damage to Trees?
The best way to prevent termite damage to trees on your property is to actively monitor and control nearby termite populations. Talk with a licensed termite inspector about the termite species that are active in your area and the risks they pose to live trees and plants, as well as your home. If termites are likely to infest your home or trees, your termite inspector can recommend techniques for termite prevention and control, including termiticides and monitoring and bait systems.