Generally speaking, people love trees. Almost any property owner has, at one point, decided to plant a tree on their property so they can have more shade, cleaner air, and more birds in the area. But people are not the only ones who love them. Right under our feet reside, almost invisible, tree lovers, famous for their destructive tendencies – termites.
Despite their small bodies, termites are well-known property destroyers. Their hunger for wood drives them close to living areas, where they nibble on the wooden house construction, wooden floors, front and back porches, sheds, and anything made out of wood, including dry trees. Some termite species even feed on living wood, so any tree on your property can attract them.
And their appetite? Enormous. One termite can eat over 10 inches of wood in a single year. Imagine what can a colony, containing half a million termites, do.
But before you start sweating and checking your property, read more about termites, the harm they can cause, as well as ways to recognize and safely remove them.
What Are Termites?
Termites are insects related to cockroaches, which look like ants and have a similar colony structure. Their large colonies can contain hundreds of thousands, even millions of individual insects.
While some colonies live above the ground, forming immaculate structures, others live underground, where they build mud tubes that protect them from the open air. Some live inside dead tree trunks, where they build mud nests.
Scientists assume that termites, as a species, developed over 120 million years ago. Since then, they went through some physical changes, but their eating habits remained mostly the same.
Why Are Termites Dangerous?
Termites mainly feed on cellulose. Their digestive system contains tiny symbiotic bacteria, that help them dissolve it after consumption. And since tree trunks and other parts of the tree such as branches, are made out of cellulose, they are a perfect food for termites. But these little pests like to feed on other things too, such as decaying animal carcasses and all kinds of plants. Even mold fungi are used as food for the young larvae.
Still, termites are especially fond of wood. Slightly rotten wood is their favorite because the cellulose in it has started decomposing, so it is softer and easier to digest. It is the kind of wood that stumps consist of when trees are removed.
A small colony of termites can eat inside a huge tree or a stump, acting so carefully that no one will suspect anything happening until the outer shell literally crumbles under your hand.
Once they eat everything they can in one place, they will send swarmers to find a new safe feeding ground.
If they come across wooden parts of foundations, exposed floors, or other parts of house construction, basically everything containing cellulose, even furniture, and wallpaper, swarmers will signalize the rest of the colony and it will migrate where there is plenty of food.
So, it is hardly necessary to explain why such a “neighbor” is dangerous and why you should do your best to protect your property. If you fail to do it, you might suffer serious property and financial damage.
How to Spot Termites?
One of the dangers of termites is that traces of their activity and themselves are challenging to detect until it is too late. These insects start destroying stumps and wood from the inside, so their actions most often go unnoticed.
There are several ways to detect termites.
Termites are never quiet. Therefore, the likelihood of hearing them is much higher than seeing them. These insects emit a quiet but distinguishable hum. And if it’s coming from a stump or other wooden structures, that’s a real reason to be on the lookout.
Some homeowners use special acoustic sensors to warn of nearby termite colonies.
Termites are similar to ants but have several critical significant differences. One of them is the white color. If you notice even one white “ant” on your property, this is a severe cause for concern because white ants do not exist.
Remember that termites never live alone, so if you see one, a whole colony is hiding nearby.
When destroying a tree, these pests leave piles of shredded wood. It looks like the dust that appears after an infestation of these insects. If you begin to find piles of such debris near stumps, it could mean that these pests have already taken up residence in them.
How to Combat Termites
If you find termites in the stumps, then the only method to get rid of them is to remove such stumps, as all other ways are not so effective and may have only a temporary effect.
This is pulling out the roots of plants by hand or with special equipment. The stumps and root system are dug out to a suitable depth, then the roots are cut off, and the stump is pulled out with a crowbar, winch, or tractor.
In the case of termite infection, you must remove the stump and the roots left behind.
This removes the stump by grinding it with a unique technique. This method will not only help to eliminate the stump entirely but also save the landscape, which can be damaged by uprooting or burning stumps.
The chemical method, which is often used to get rid of stumps, is unsuitable. It takes quite a long time, sometimes up to a year, but if termites are present, you must remove the stump quickly to prevent the insects from spreading to other trees and wooden structures.
Therefore, burning with fire will help in the control of these pests. This method will not only remove the remains of the stump but also destroy termites. However, you can only burn stumps in places with no restrictions on using open fire.
If termites attacked your house, make sure to contact pest control as soon as possible, because termite damage is irreversible.
When fighting termites, remember to act quickly. The sooner you start destroying these pests, the less time they will have to damage the property. If you are unsure how to do it alone, hire a team of experts to help you.