Unwanted Neighbours: Might Termites Move into One of Your Trees?

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Get to Know Your Local Trees

I'd always loved walking in forests and woodland areas, but I never really took the time to learn about the different species of tree — they all looked the same to me! That all changed when a relative gifted me a beautifully detailed book on local wildlife. From there, I was on a mission to learn all I could about trees, from oak to elm, beech to ash. I've set up this site to share my journey with you. Watch out for fun tree facts, tips on caring for trees on your property, and advice on tree planting and removal.


Unwanted Neighbours: Might Termites Move into One of Your Trees?

22 January 2019
 Categories: , Blog

There are some trees in the world that are so old they almost seem to be immortal. The trees in your backyard are not going to be that old, but they can still remain in place for a considerable period of time. Of course, while trees might have remarkable longevity, it's not as though they're indestructible. Trees can be obliterated by fire, ripped apart by storms or even purposefully cut down. Sometimes the end of a tree isn't so abrupt and can be a long time in the making. This is true when a nest of termites has chosen to make a home in one of your trees. This poses a problem for the tree in question but also has the potential to spread to other trees, and also to your home. What can you do when you suspect that termites have moved into your backyard?


There are numerous varieties of termites in Australia, and of these, some 16 have been classified as having an economic impact, meaning they're capable of damaging buildings or crops. A termite infestation in your backyard doesn't always mean that your house is going to be the next target, but it's not like you'll want to take the risk.

Mounds and Nests

One of the most obvious signs of an infestation is a termite mound on or near a tree. Not all termites build them, and they're more common in subtropical regions. Sometimes a nest can also be subterranean, and as such, difficult to spot. There is also the possibility that some species of termite can make their home directly inside a specific tree.

Inside the Tree

If an alluring point of entry (such as a broken-off branch or a damaged section of bark) exists, then termites could conceivably choose a tree as their nesting site, burrowing their way inwards to the pith, or heart, of the trunk, taking advantage of the shelter and food supply that the tree offers. As the tree slowly succumbs to the termites, it will begin to look unhealthy, with yellowing and wilting foliage. You might even spot termites entering and exiting the nest via holes on the trunk. You should contact an arborist as soon as possible.

The Expert Approach

The arborist can determine the level of infestation by drilling a small hole through the trunk into the pith of the tree and inserting a narrow rod. When retracted, termites can stick to the rod to give evidence of their presence and quantity. All is not necessarily lost; this drilled hole can sometimes even be used to deliver insecticide right to the heart of the tree, ideally killing the entire colony.

Goodbye Tree

Sometimes the problem might have been addressed too late, and so tree removal can be the best option. The tree is removed in its entirety (stump and all), which also removes the colony, preventing them from spreading any further. You might not want to sacrifice the tree, but if it can't be saved, you might need to say goodbye in order to protect your other trees and your home.

Sometimes you can peacefully coexist with the insects in your garden. When those insects are termites, coexisting can be too much of a risk. Call an arborist today for help diagnosing and taking care of your trees.