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  • Do termites eat live trees?

    Created by netrate on

    Ok, here is my situation. I have a red maple in the middle of my lawn. I noticed some dead branches so I got a saw and cut them off. As I was cutting a 3-4 termites came running out. I got a ladder and tried to cut off as many of the dead branches as I could.

    I took the dead branches and put them in garbage bins and moved them away from the house. Unfortunately yard waste pick-up was this morning so I can’t get rid of the stuff until next week.

    The tree is small and there isn’t any water nearby or really anything that resembled a moist area for the termites. I am not sure where they are nesting.

    What is my next step for this? I don’t know how long the tree has been suffering these termites and considering it has been a heat wave here in southern ontario, I wasn’t sure how they could live .

    1) Should I set up a trap ? Someone suggest wet cardboard around the base of the tree
    2) Should I spray the tree?

    Any advice would be appreciated.

  • Author
  • #284212

    Eric Vinje

    Hello –

    In most cases, termites do not eat live trees they only eat the dead, decaying material. With that said you should remove the termites as quickly as possible, especially if the tree is near your house. Also, I would not recommend stacking firewood or using wood mulch around your home if termites are present. Here’s my recommendations for getting rid of termites in trees.

    1.) Prune away any dead or dying branches.
    2.) Burn or throw away the problem branches to prevent pests from spreading.
    3.) Locate the termite colony (yes, cardboard and commercial traps can help!) and destroy it using proven, natural treatments.
    4.) Continue monitoring the tree and surrounding areas for termite activity.
    5.) Keep moisture away from your home’s foundation and repair cracks, if any.

    Hope it helps!



    1. Cut away infected wood as soon as signs of termites are discovered. Evidence may include narrow tunnels through the wood, larger nesting chambers, small white eggs or the termites themselves. Burn or otherwise destroy the wood as soon as possible to ensure that the termites do not spread from the infested material.

    2. Spray liquid termiticide in a 3-foot radius around the base of the infected tree and any other nearby trees that may be close enough for their canopies to touch. Spray the tree trunk itself up to a height of two feet. This will deter any further termites from approaching the tree. As a greener alternative to commercial hydrocarbon-based termiticides, use a biodegradable permethrin-based insecticide, such as Torpedo or Dragnet.

    3. Set termite traps around the area to alert you to any new termite activity. Simple wooden-stake traps, available at hardware stores or home improvement retailers, can be driven into the ground and left as bait for roving termites, then pulled up and checked regularly. These chemical-free traps are made of pine and pose no environmental or safety hazards to pets or children.

    4. Monitor the infested tree carefully and repeat the spray treatment if any additional evidence of termites appears. Prevent new infestations by removing old wood piles, rotting stumps or any other potential sites for termite colonies.



    No, termites are not interested in eating wood from a tree. If you are noticing that your tree is attacked by termites, this could be because of cambium layer or pith of the tree has died. You should check better precautions so that your tree should be protected. As termites spread from one place to another. So you should be careful that your home should also be safe and free from termites.

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