How to Stop Termite Damage in Pine Trees

How to Stop Termite Damage in Pine Trees

Termites aren’t just a problem for the home. In older or weakened trees, termites can slip under the bark and begin to eat the trunk of the tree from the inside. Although termites prefer hardwood trees, they will also colonize and feed on softwoods, such as southern pine. Once a colony moves into a tree, the termites can nest there and slowly kill the tree from the inside out. The best way to stop termite damage to a pine tree is to kill the termite colony.

Use a magnifying glass to examine the trunk of the tree for exposed, hollowed-out areas where a termite colony has been eating wood. These exposed areas are known as galleys. Many termites like to eat the wood directly under the bark of a tree. You may find galleys by probing the bark for loose pieces and then prying the loose bark back with a screwdriver.

Look around the soil and roots of the tree for termite tunnels, known as mud tubes. Many termite species do not like to travel while exposed. They instead construct tunnels made of mud so that they can travel under cover.

Purchase a termite barrier control treatment, such as Termidor. According to studies compiled by the University of Florida, Termidor is an effective barrier treatment to keep termites away from a home or a tree.

Spray the insecticide over the bark of a pine tree near the exposed galleys and mud tubes using a spray applicator. Then pour the insecticide in a 2-foot ring around the pine tree’s base and allow it to soak into the soil. Pines have a taproot that grows downward, as opposed to a heart root or flat roots, so it is easier to keep termites from attacking the roots of pines compared to other trees by applying a barrier treatment.

Why are Asian termites killing pine trees in Flor > May 11, 2018 May 7, 2018 Deanna Goodson

Florida has had slash pines that have stood for about 100 years. These beautiful pine trees have provided shade, oxygen and a habitat for local wildlife. Losing them would be a terrible shame. Unfortunately, this is what may happen due to the Asian termites that are infecting them.

What is an Asian termite?

The Asian termite, or in this case, the Asian subterranean termite, along with the Formosan termite, have been introduced into Florida’s climate in the past few years. These destructive insects are both considered coptotermes gestroi, and a sub-species of the termite, that lives underground. They come from Southeast Asia and spread across the globe since the 1600s. They came to the US via boats and planes.

What is the problem with the Asian termites?

Well, at least in Florida, they have huge colonies. Did you know that a well-established colony could have over a million termites in it? Yes, it is true. These termites are also subterranean so they live underground where you cannot see them. They like to burrow underground and create tunnels that allow them to travel. They also provide protection for the ants.

Why is a termite affecting pine trees?

That is a very good question. Usually termites burrow in homes. That does happen in Florida too. However, these termites have gotten a taste for Florida’s native trees. A recent study, done by the University of Florida, looks at the problem of Asian termites amongst the slash pine trees.

More Information about the University of Florida study.

The study looked at nearly 400 slash pine trees in Fort Lauderdale. The results were that termites had killed about 12 percent of residential trees and 3 percent of city park trees in just the last five years. The researchers also discovered that another 46 percent or residential trees had become infested with termites. These trees are expected to die as well over time. Park trees did better. Only a total of 15 percent had become infected. The disturbing thing is that slash pines in other counties and areas like Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Broward might also suffer the same fate.

What can we do about the termites?

Well, it seems that these termites do respond to pest control treatments. Unfortunately, this is usually done on a house-by-house basis and the problem is more widespread than that. Sure, if everyone in South Florida calls and has their trees sprayed for these pests, then maybe the problem can be put in check. The likelihood of that happening is slim to none, however.

  • Check the outer bark of your trees. All you have to do is peel back a dead piece of outer bark.
  • If you find subterranean termites, do not cut down the tree. Why? It is not effective because most of the termites live underground.
  • Tenting your house as you do for regular termites will not work. Again, this is because the termites live underground. Tenting will work for drywood termites but not these subterranean ones.
  • Call a pest control service so they can place bait above the ground of infected trees. This is your best defense against the Asian termites.

If you want to learn more about Asian and Formosan termites, the internet is full of interesting information. We hope this has helped you learn more about the problem as it affects Southern Florida. Austin Tree does not deal with termites, but local pest control companies can. We appreciate your reading our blog. We wish to add to your tree knowledge.

How to Treat Termites In Pine Tree?

You hear a lot about termite problems in certain climate areas.

They destroy property, bringing money loss on repair costs.

But can they eat a living tree? For example, do termites eat pine trees that is growing next to your house?

If it can be infested what should you do about it?

Can termites eat a living tree?

Yes, and no, there’s one question to answer – which termites we’re talking about.

You will find a lot of people saying that termites can eat only dry dead wood and they will not be in the core of a healthy tree.

This people are right, if they live in the climatic zone where only drywood termite species live.

Drywood termites eat and inhabit only dry and dead wood, this is true. They don’t need and don’t like moisture. This is the specie that can form a colony in a piece of furniture, in the door or window frame, in untreated structural timber.

They will not be inside a living tree, so, before you ask yourself if you have termites in the pine tree, check which species of termites live in your climate.

First of all, they absolutely need moisture for survival. This is why they live in soil, under the ground, where they can get enough water and stay protected from the sun.

If you have an infestation inside your house, it means that the subterranean workers are visiting your structure, but they don’t live in it. Usually, those ones don’t go higher than the ground floor in the building.

So, this termite species can find a pine tree to be interesting, maybe not for eating, but for nesting in its soft core. It guarantees enough moisture around and protection from the outside influence.

Usually, they enter the tree through its roots and slowly move up to the trunk, hollowing the tree on the way up, as the colony grows.

What are the signs of the tree infestation?

There’re couple of things you should check if you suspect that there are termites in pine tree. First of all, you should look carefully around the trunk, especially in lower part, for some mud tubes.

Those are the covered corridors subterranean termites build to travel without being exposed to the sunshine.

They are made of chewed cellulose and the grey color of it should stand out of brown shade of pine bark. Most probably they will be concealed in the crevices.

You also might find hollowed wood right under the layer of bark.

Remove couple of bark scales and try to stick the screwdriver in the soft wood under it. If the wood structure is compromised, you will notice it immediately.

Another thing to check are the roots of the tree. Usually, if you just dig the soil in couple of places next to the roots you will find the termites, or even their eggs. In the swarming period you will certainly see if the winged alates are emerging from under the ground next to the pine.

Also the antennas of termites will be straight, in comparison to elbowed ones of ants. Now, if you are sure that the pests you’ve found are termites, should you actually do anything?

Why you shouldn’t just let them be?

There’re two good reasons to put some effort into the pine tree treatment:

You surely don’t want and active termite colony thrive somewhere on your land. As I mentioned, mostly the subterranean termites use pine tree as a nesting place, not the main food source.

And who knows how long it will take them to start foraging on wood in your building. So, once you have detected the infestation, you should do your best to destroy the colony as soon as possible and forget about it threatening your home.

Another reason to take care of the termites in a tree is that with the growth of the colony they remove more and more of the material from its insides, weakening the pine.

This might result in the tree becoming too fragile and falling with the first blow of the wind. Hopefully, not on your house. But still, the falling pine can bring some trouble.

Here you can learn more information about termite bait systems: Advance, Green, CSIRO, Nemesis, Exterra, Firstline, Terminate. Also find out how to make baits by yourself and how to refill them?

How to treat the infested tree?

The first thing to do is to make sure the tree is still worth saving.

There’re professionals called arborists – they can check the tree vitals and tell you if it can recover after the infestation or the treatment will just delay its death.

If the arborist finds out that big part of the tree trunk is hollowed, he will recommend you to cut it down. If this happens, don’t forget to treat the stump as well.

Now you can use several methods:

  • Liquid insecticide.
  • Foam termiticide.
  • Baits.

Liquid termiticide in this case better be used as a soil treatment technique. All you need to do is to make a trench around the tree base and pour the needed solution in it. Usually, it creates the barrier, crossing which termites get some poison on them and bring it back to the colony.

It also has strong residual effect and will protect the tree for some time after. The most popular product that house owners recommend for this is Termidor, but you should be careful about this kinds of chemicals. They pose some danger to the environment and should be used with all the necessary precautions.

Another way to use the liquid insecticide is to spray it on the trunk of the tree. But this way is better to use for prevention of the infestation and it won’t be very efficient of you already got one.

If you want to try to inject the termicide inside the tree, you should use the foam. They can be available in aerosol cans for the DIY treatments, or the professionals with the foaming equipment can make any liquid termiticide into foam, Termidor included.

For foam injection you’ll need to make few holes, to break into the nest and them push the foam inside.

The best is to use the one that has no repellent action, so it’s delayed poisoning destroys the colony for good. Otherwise, the ones that kill on contact may not reach the deeper galleries of the nest, letting the colony to rebuild again.

Another way of dealing with the infestation is to place the baits around it. At first you can use them without an insecticide to monitor termite activity on your soil.

Then, when the infestation becomes obvious, you will add the termiticide into the baits, so the foraging workers bring it back to the colony and share it, killing everyone in the nest in a matter of days.

What to do with the tree after the infestation?

This will depend of how much damage the pine took. If it’s hollowed and has weakened structure, you might need to reinforce it by adding a metal supportive structure. Otherwise, the tree might heal itself if you give it some time.

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Helpful video

Video of the pine tree completely infested with termites and eaten up:


Now, let me repeat one more time: if you found a tree infested with termites in close proximity to your house – deal with it.

Subterranean termite is a dangerous neighbor and you should do everything to get rid of it. Even if you choose to cut the tree, the treatments have to follow.

Termite FAQ

When are termites most common?

Once a colony is established, termites are a year-round problem. However, there is an increase in colony expansion activity during warm weather.

If treatment is done correctly, how long will the insecticide barrier be effective?

Before chlordane was taken off the market as a termiticide in May of 1988, it was the most widely used product for termite control because of its long-term effectiveness. In fact, a house could be protected for 20 years or more using chlordane or like products. Chlordane was taken off the market because of misuse. The termiticides used today for termite control are much less persistent in the environment than the older chemicals. With the products today, you should expect a properly applied termite treatment to protect your home for five years.

My next-door neighbor has termites and is going to have his house treated. Are the termites going to attack my house next?

Termites move randomly through the soil searching for a source of food (wood). so they don’t know where where your house is exactly. So, if your next-door neighbor treats his home for termites, your house isn’t automatically the termites’ next lunch. Your house does not need to be treated; but, if there are active termite infestations in your neighborhood, it is a good idea to have it inspected.

We have dry wood termites. We are going to get a professional to do the treatment, but feel there must be something we can do to preclude re-infestation. Does the use of a poison gas, like Vikane, kill subterranean termites?

Vikane as well as other fumigants will. kill any living organism. It will not prevent termites from reentering the the structure though. Barrier treatments with traditional termiticides would be the only way to do this for subterranean termites. Dry wood termites are usually treated with fumigants. There aren’t many ways to prevent future attacks from dry wood termites. Exposed, unfinished wood could be sprayed with Timbor but this would only protect the exposed wood.

What is “pretreatment”? How is this different from “treatment”?

Pretreatment means treating the soil under the structure before cement floors are poured in place. Which would be a great benefit instead of drilling..
Treating the structure and “pretreatment” would be the same. the method of treatment, amount and kind of pesticide used, and methods of application are the same for both pretreatment and treatment, unless drilling would be needed.

What is the best termite chemical available now for termite treatment?

There is not much difference between the effectiveness of the various termite chemicals on the market, when they are used as directed on the label. The most common reason that a chemical / barrier treatment fails is when the application results in an incomplete insecticide barrier around the structure.

Incomplete application according to the label could be:
The termiticide is diluted with too much water,
The insecticide is not injected all the way to the footings of the basement
The volume of insecticide was insufficient according to label.
Treatment procedures are found clearly on the insecticide label and should be followed carefully to ensure proper coverage.

We had a company give us an estimate for a home 270′ outside dimensions. The cost quoted was $1343.00. Does this seem to be a reasonable quote for a home this size? approx 3000 sq ft including the garage. We do have a small infestation and they state the whole home must be treated. is this standard practice?

That is an average price. not too high, not too low. Very few companies will do spot treatments. You can’t blame them however, it’s hard to warranty spot treatments.

We think we have termites? What questions should you be asking of someone inspecting your home. What is the difference between Orkin and some local company?

Ask if they have a damage-replacement warranty or re treatment warranty . If they offer a damage warranty. what are the waivers and exclusions? In other words, what are they liable for?
Ask what chemical they will use, and at what strength they will use it. Is that the the maximum strength allowed on the product label?
How many gallons will they use?
Orkin and a local company will very likely use the same chemicals and treatment methods. The treatments should conform to state specifications so that shouldn’t be a factor. The stability of the company should also be considered.

I heat my home with firewood and I’m always worried about bring in termites. Is there something that I can safely spray on my firewood to kill any termites or carpenter ants before I bring the wood into the house?

Not to worry. Subterranean termites don’t live in the wood. They live in the ground. Any termites trapped in the wood will not be able to survive because they are not capable of reproducing with out the queen. However, don’t store the wood inside because ants and beetles may come in with the wood.

The pest control company will give me a one-year warranty on the treatment. After that, I must pay $100 a year for a yearly inspection. If the termites come back, the company will cover the treatment cost. Is this a good investment?

The limited warranties offered by pest control companies are more like buying termite control insurance than a warranty. Whether or not it is a good investment is relative and depends on the level of risk a homeowner wants to assume. In the event of a termite re infestation, will all costs be covered by the warrant-tee? Will they cover structural damage ? What will the homeowner have to be responsible for? Can the yearly inspection fee be increased by the company or is it fixed for a number of years?

I have a foam barrier around my slab. Is this a problem and if so. what is the solution?

Foam barriers need to be removed. Termites get behind them or go right through them to get to your home. It can be a real problem.
Some homes have foam barriers because a previous requirement for federally sponsored loans required home builders to wrap the slab to save energy. Now that the risks are understood, no one can get a federal sponsored loan or refinance unless it’s removed. Remove the foam insulation to allow at least a 6 inch clearance from the soil and the foam board. Enough foam insulation should be removed as to be able to properly treat the soil above any insulation left in the ground.

Down in my basement there is a concrete foundation wall, and above the wall is wood which is covered with insulation. At the base of the concrete wall, by the floor, EVERY WEEK,at the same location, I am vacuuming up thick piles of what looks like SAWDUST. I’ve examined the wood above these piles, pulled out the insulation, and found no evidence of wood damage. Are there any other possibilities other than termites? Is there anything more specific I should be looking for that would enable me to identify the problem? Thank you for your help! Steve

You don’t have termites. Sounds like carpenter ants. Check the outside of the house for ant activity at night. Spraying into the cracks with Taurus SC from which the ants emerge is the best answer.

I have a brick house that has a small infestation problem that has just been chemically treated. However, I want to cross over to the Sentricon system and they are asking way too much money. I can do this myself but I need to know what I need. The perimeter of my house is about 200 linear feet. How many bait stations would I use?

The Advance Termite Bait Kit should do your house.

How often should my house be treated for termites?

This is a difficult question to answer. Many factors including soil type, termite chemical used, quality of treatment, construction type, and design of the home can all effect the longevity of termiticides in the soil. Your best bet is to have your home inspected annually, following instructions of a responsible professional in your area.

I heat my home with firewood and I’m always worried about bringing in termites. Is there something that I can safely spray on my firewood to kill any termites or carpenter ants before I bring the wood into the house? Not to worry. Subterranean termites don’t live in the wood. They live in the ground. Any termites trapped in the wood will not be able to survive because they are not capable of reproducing with out the queen. However, don’t store the wood inside because ants and beetles may come in with the wood.

We have dry wood termites. We are going to get a professional to do the treatment, but feel there must be something we can do to preclude re-infestation. Does the use of a poison gas, like Vikane, kill subterranean termites?

Vikane as well as other fumigants will. kill any living organism. It will not prevent termites from reentering the the structure though. Barrier treatments with traditional termiticides would be the only way to do this for subterranean termites. Dry wood termites are usually treated with fumigants. There aren’t many ways to prevent future attacks from dry wood termites. Exposed, unfinished wood could be sprayed with Timbor but this would only protect the exposed wood.

There is a tree about 50 feet from my house that is not dead but does have one dead branch. I found termites in the dead portion of this tree. I am going to do a thorough search around my house and look for any other dead wood and/or mud tunnels. I don’t believe the termites are in or near the house. What recommendations do you have to treat this tree? Is there a good chance these termites are going to find my house? Should I treat my house also? What pesticides do you recommend whether applied professionally or by me? Please keep in mind I have two small children who play in the yard.

The termites will only consume the dead wood. This is a good thing, natures way. I would inspect the house regularly and for a peace of mind, have a professional exterminator inspect it for you.

I believe I saw a termite in my house recently, therefore I called a pest control company check out the house to see if they note any termites/or damage. The person from the pest control company looked in the crawl space and basement for apparent mud holes and found no reason to believe that I have termites. I am concerned though, as I am finding small-very small round holes in my drywall for no apparent reason. They show up where there is no logical reason for a “nail” hole to be used for an explanation. I have found no wings near window sills, and nothing like pellet dropping from the bored out holes. Should I request another pest control company for a second opinion?

Yes I would, a common sign of termites is the appearance of small holes(sometimes filled or capped with mud) in the dry wall. It may or may not be termites ..but I would ask for another opinion.

Can you recommend a product to kill termites that are destroying a tree?

Termites don’t eat wood from a tree. When termites are found in or on a live tree, something is causing the pith or cambium layer of the tree to die. Termites invade and eat the dead cellulose. You might have a tree doctor look at what would be causing the decline in the tree.

Is it advisable to remove a tree stump (pine or eucalyptus) which is in the ground 4 feet away from the concrete foundation of our house in order to prevent termites from colonizing in that tree stump from which colony they might eventually migrate through cracks in the concrete into our house?
If so, what is the recommended width of a zone around a house in which a trees stump should not be left in the ground for the purpose of preventing termite infestation of the house?

It is believed that roots grow out as far as branches do on most trees.
Roots from the stump can lead termites through the chemical barrier to the structure.
What this means is that the diameter of the stump will affect how far away it needs to be
classified as “no threat”. Four feet for every 6 inches in diameter is a rule that has been adopted by many pest control companies.

I brought in 2 small logs and placed in the fireplace for future burning. the next day I noticed a termite walking across the floor and then several others in the fireplace. Should I be concerned that they are nesting in my living room now? Or will I be ok after getting rid of the logs?? Please advise!

Their colony and queens are located far away in the ground. They have no means of reproduction and they will die from dehydration very quickly.

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