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Similar to termite activity inside the home, termites in trees can also cause trouble for homeowners. Termites that infest trees consume the wood inside the tree until it can no longer stand. This poses a danger if the fallen tree ends up on your home, car or backyard.

Termites actually play a crucial role in the forest ecosystem, since they can “recycle” fallen or decaying trees and stumps, creating room for new growth. In a wild forest setting, for example, termites are simply a part of the natural cycle of life, death and re-growth.

In an urban setting, however, termites can infest a tree on your property, which also provides them with a pathway to your home, garage or other wooden structure. As the colony attacks an otherwise healthy tree, the termites destroy a valuable source of beauty and shade, and also create the danger of falling limbs—or even an entire tree that could fall—possibly harming you or your family, damaging other parts of your property or creating liability issues with nearby neighbors. Once these destructive pests finish consuming the tree, the termites can easily move on to your fence, garage or house.

Check your trees for signs of termite infestation by observing the following:

  • Many termites will leave small holes and wood shavings where they’ve entered the wood.
  • The best place to look for them is around the base of the tree; you can use a small shovel to dig around the roots because termites usually exist just below the soil line.
  • Because Formosan termite colonies are so large, you may also see discarded wings and termite carcasses.
  • Other signs include shelter tubes on the trunks of trees, and swarm ‘castles’ located within scars of the trees, or even small white eggs.

To lessen the likelihood of termite infestation in your trees, yard or home, avoid leaving dead tree stumps in your yard, don’t stack firewood near your home, and steer clear of having excess mulch around the structure. [In Massachusetts, the best type of mulch that will not attract eastern subterranean termites is eastern red cedar wood chips. The US Department of Agriculture categorizes mulch from eastern red cedar wood as being in between “resistant” and “very resistant” to termite attack. This makes eastern red cedar wood a better natural termite repellent than the more widely used wood from western red cedar trees.]

An outbreak of termites in your yard could also mean these silent destroyers have invaded your home. Call a pest management professional for a free, no-obligation inspection.