Will Termites Eat Live Trees? {Which Termites Don’t?}

Are you wondering if your live trees on your property are safe from termites? Will Termites Eat Live Trees?

Do all types of termites eat live trees? How can I prevent my trees from being eaten by termites?

In this article, we will find out if termites eat live tress and what we can do about it.

Will Termites Eat Live Trees?

Yes and No. Subterranean termites only eat dead trees. Formosan termites could be drawn to a layer of dry wood on the outer portion of a tree bark on a live tree.

They will consume dry and hard bark, but during this time, they continue to burrow into the live tree. The tree itself or the cambium is layer is now dying or dead. Soon enough the entire tree will die.

Why Do Termites Eat Live Trees?

Not all termites eat live trees. Subterranean termites will leave live trees alone. Formosan termites will continue feasting on a live tree until is it dead. They start by attacking logs, sticks, the pitch and cambium layer of the bark.

The dry and hard bark of the tree draws these termites in. The tree begins getting consumed and soon enough, it will die.

A termite attack on a live tree starts with hard, dry, dead pieces and turns into a disaster when the entire tree suffers the terminal results from an all out termite attack.

How Does A Live Tree Die From Termite Attacks?

Formosan termites are usually the culprit when it comes to a live being devoured. They can live in trees and are alive and well. Soon enough, the tree will die. These Formosan termites make holes all through the trunk of the tree and nest inside it.

The tree itself begins to weaken and its growth is now stunted or stagnant. The tree can and will fall down with time if the attack continues.

There will be a build-up of dead cambium layers within the trunk. This will attract subterranean termites as well, now that there are significant portions of the tree that is dead.

They lay eggs in these live trees and the dead layers continue to grow until the tree is no more.

What Trees Do Termites Eat?

There are plenty of trees that termites will attack and there are others that they will leave alone. If you are noticing plenty of termites in your area, there might be some trees that they are drawn to.

Let’s look at a list of tree that termites likes to eat:

  1. Red oak 
  2. White oak 
  3. Pine tree 
  4. Black locust
  5.  Siberian pea tree 
  6. Gum trees 
  7. Osage-orange
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Which Trees Do Termites Hate?

Let’s look through this second list below of trees that termites leave alone:

  1. Iroko tree
  2. Greenheart
  3. Australian cypress
  4. Teak tree
  5. Redwood
  6. Niove tree
  7. Mahogany

It would be nice to only have trees in our area that termites do not eat, but we can’t be certain if these trees will actually grow here.

Check out the particular tree you are interested to find out if they grow successfully in your region, climate, area and neighborhood.

Do Termites Eat Pine Trees?

Yes. Pine trees contain ample amounts of cellulose that attract termites. These pests prefer to eat dead cellulose. They will look for it on part of the pine tree that is dry or dead.

Pine trees grow in soil that is sandy. Termites prefer sand soil over swampy soil. They are drawn to the rich and favorable cellulose in pine trees over most types of trees.

Will Termites Eat Live Pine Trees?

A termite will usually be entices to eat a dead pine tree or one that is already dying. There should be some dead logs, lumber, sticks or dry bark. The cambium layer may contain some dead spots within the tree.

  • A Drywood termite will eat a pine tree only if there are some significant dead parts.
  • A Subterranean termite will usually leave all live trees alone. 
  • A Formosan termite will nest in a live tree and aim to kill it slowly in order to eat the dead cellulose. 

Do Termites Eat Acacia Trees?

Only dry outer layers of acacia trees seem to be attacked by termites. The trunk and branches could be their first targets. It is difficult for a termite to eat the inside of an acacia tree because it is very hard compared to most trees.

The acacia tree has developed to become termite resistant at its core. The hard wood portion of the acacia tree is always free of termites. This is why acacia wood for building kitchen cabinets and other wood structures are highly desired.

Do Termites Eat Palm Trees?

Yes. Palm trees are rich in cellulose and fiber. The bottom or the roots of palm tree attached to the ground is where a termite will begin its attack. They will penetrate the tree without anyone noticing.

Slowly, the palm tree will wither, die and possibly fall over.  Look at the base of the palm tree to notice termite waste or frass that resembles sawdust.

The roots of a palm tree does not dig deep into the soil and it is susceptible of falling over during a termite attack.

How Do I Know If There Are Termites In A Live Tree?

There are some telltale signs that termites are nesting in a dead, dying and live tree. Formosan termites will start first. They don’t care if the tree or cellulose is dead and ready to eat.

They will nest in a live tree and aim to kill it slowly. Drywood termites wish to eat the inside of a dead tree. Subterranean termites attack trees from the outside.

Look for the following sings that termites have infested a live tree:

  • Mud tunnels are present on the trunk.
  • There are termite holes in the tree.
  • You can see visible termite poop or frass. 
  • The leaves are discolored.


You can cut a tree that is infested with termites or spray it with termiticide. Before you try these stronger options, give tea tree oil or lavender oil in a spray bottle with hot water a try.

Borax also works when sprinkled on the tree. Formosan termites might be living in your live tree. Calling an exterminator or professional for an inspection may help prevent matters from getting worse.


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