Gum trees are excellent shade providers, sheltering homes, gardens and other less hardy trees such as the Japanese maple from the harsh glare of the summer sun. However, because of their long lifespan, with some living up to 250 years in the wild, some sections of older gum trees contain dead wood. This is generally true for gum tree branches, which gum trees may shed in times of drought, but even the trunks of gum trees can contain dead wood.
For this reason alone, taller gum trees; which can reach heights of 40 meters, are hazardous when in close proximity to populated areas. However, when you add termites to the equation, the risk levels multiply, especially in areas that are known for high winds such as Melbourne which encountered wind gusts over 100km per hour in 2016.
Consider Removing Termite Infested Trees
If you have gum trees on your property, you should frequently inspect them for termites to avoid any unpleasant surprises during storms. Once termites infiltrate the core of a tree, it is only a matter of time before that tree falls. Trees or branches infested with termites should be evaluated by an arborist. Only an experienced arborist will be able to tell if a termite infested tree poses a threat to your property.
You may have to remove the tree. However, doing so will not only remove the risk of the tree falling on your home, but it will also remove the threat of termites invading your home.
Signs that Your Tree May be Infested
In 2012, a 30 meter pine tree fell and crushed 5 cars at the Northpark Shopping Centre in Adelaide. The council inspectors put the damage down to termites. However, the tree looked perfectly healthy. Apparently, there were no indications that the tree was home to a termite colony. This is why you need to be extra vigilant, especially in an area known to be inhabited by termites.
What should you look out for when examining your gum trees?
Look for natural predators such as:
- Kookaburras: Kookaburras enjoy feasting on termites. If you notice kookaburras visiting a certain area of your gum tree, you should inspect it for termites.
- Ants: Ants also prey on termites though you will need to get up close to determine if an ant trail exists due to the presence of termites.
- Lizards: Termites are also eaten by lizards such as geckos and frill-necked lizards. Watch for these if you suspect termites and observe their movements on your tree.
Then of course there are the normal telltale signs, such as the mud tunnels on the bark of your tree, the presence of termites under the soil at the base of the tree, and swarmers. If you find a swarm of winged termites weaving their clumsy way toward your home from the vicinity of your gum tree, they may have emerged from the tree itself.
If your back or front yard is home to a gum tree and you find signs of a termite infestation, you should consider having the tree removed. Even if the damage is minimal, the tree may still topple in high winds due to its weakened core. Call an arborist in your area to inspect the tree to determine whether tree removal or pest control is your best option.