Termites causing tree falls in your backyard or school is no laughing matter. I have located hundreds of living termite colonies in trees, and have come to know that these nest sites tend to be secure deep in a void made within the trunk of a tree of sound timber. We need powerful drilling equipment to find them and often need to drill through several inches of solid timber before we feel that distinctive crunchiness of the ‘mud-guts’ of a colony nest.
I generally comfort client who might be concerned about the risk of termites causing trees to fall and the associated hazards. I tell them of my experience that termites often damage timbers just short of the ‘point of collapse’, and that a hollow tube (trunk) is stronger than a solid tube.
Similarly, councils often ask us to test a tree on a nature strip or reserve for termites, after residents become concerned that a sappy or hole riddled tree may fall. While we are not arborists, and are unable to comment about the stability of particular tree, we may be requested to comment on the presence of any hollow in a trunk, as well as the presence of live termites.
However, despite our confidence in the architectural skills of termites, trees do sometimes fall due to the termites eating the core out of the trunk. It can happen in a modest size tree with absolutely no visual indication of weakness, but it can also happen to huge trees.
When our three children were growing up, they went on a school day trip one hot summer’s day to the cool rainforest forest in Murrindindi National park, near Yea. My wife drove our boys in her old Valiant, and she was following the mothers in the cars along the windy mud track through the trees, down to a picnic spot by the tumbling river. The river flat was forested by enormous old Manna gums, each clearly had been hollowed generations ago by termites, but remained standing strong and home to bees, owls, parrots, hawks and possums.
Above the chatter from the kids in the Valiant, my wife suddenly heard a loud and heavy ‘crack’ and turned to see a huge trunk, right next to the car, start to fall towards her car. She accelerated hard but could hear the terrifying splintering groans as the trunk fell and slammed into the soft soil sending a shudder through the car tyres.
As it happened, it fell between my wife’s car and another mothers’s vehicle, trapping them by the river. This was before mobile phones, and it was half a day before the men with chainsaws and tractors cleared the track and the kids could get back to school.
So, you may understand my caution when I advise clients of the theory that trees don’t necessarily fall as a result of termites voiding out the trunk. This may well be the general rule. History shows some significant exceptions and trees known to be voided by termites should be assessed by an arborist.
Termite Inspections Are the Solution
A simple termite inspection for your home and or business can prevent all this from happening.
The main swarming season in Melbourne is October/ November, various termites swarm throughout the summer. It is mature termites that fly during the swarming season, this is to reduce overcrowding in nests and to mate. After the season, you will likely find termite wings scattered on the ground.
Flying termites in the garden—It is normal to see flying termites floating about in the warm evening air in a Melbourne summer. You do not need to react. If they fly into your house or shed they will die—all of them.
Flying termites coming out of a tree—This could indicate that a termite colony nest is very close. You should have it checked out by a termite specialist.
Flying termites coming out of timber/walls inside your building—This means that the building is already infested and you need it managed by a termite specialist immediately.
For more information on our termite control, dusting and termite nest elimination processes visit our website. If you need to eliminate termites in your space in Lilydale, or around Melbourne, please don’t hesitate to contact us at 1300 695 949 so we can take care of your termite worries as soon as possible.