Do Tree Stumps Attract Termites?

When it comes to things that can quickly destroy your home, we often think of acts of God, like earthquakes and hurricanes. But sometimes, the culprits don’t make themselves known with a loud roar of earth or wind; sometimes, what’s damaging your home remains almost entirely unnoticed.

Mold and pests like termites are some of these hard-to-see nuisances that could cost you tons of money to remove if it is still safe to do so.

Key Points:

  • Trees stumps can attract termites, which may lead to costly damage to a home.
  • It is important to get rid of tree stumps in yards as dead trees can be an easy target for termites and other insects like carpenter ants.
  • To avoid unwanted pests, homeowners can preserve stumps by filling gaps with resin or wax and treating the soil underneath with toxic or boric acid solutions.

There are many types of termites that see our homes as nice pieces of wood for them to consume. Both dampwood termites and drywood termites are known to invade our homes and yards. But is there anything in our yards that might actually be attracting them and leading to a termite infestation?

Read on to find out if old tree stumps and other landscaping features may be inviting termite nests onto your property. 

Do Tree Stumps Attract Pests?

Subterranean termites use saliva and other secretions to build mud tubes and travel underground. If these wood-boring insects happen to find an old tree stump, dead trees, or firewood, it could trigger a termite invasion. Some termites like Formosan termites or other ground-dwelling insects like ants in tree stumps may eat dead wood but aren’t likely to threaten your home or wooden structures. 

If a dead stump is attracting dangerous subterranean termites that will devour any type of wood, then stump removal might be needed to avoid attracting these unwanted pests. If there are already signs of termite infestation, you may want to treat the stump first by dumping hot water or using a liquid insecticide before removing the stump to avoid spreading termites around the yard.

Removing tree stumps and other food for termites can slow an infestation and allow you the time you need to rid the soil of hungry termites and prevent the future risk of termite infestation.

Why Should I Get Rid of Old Tree Stumps?

There are many reasons homeowners should get rid of old tree stumps in lawns, either themselves or with a service. The roots of a dead stump can make it hard for new trees or landscaping plants to grow to replace the dead tree. The area of soil could be reused for a garden or other aesthetic purposes, and a tree service can even turn that eyesore of a stump into wood mulch. 

Other than lawn and appearance concerns, old stumps are an easy target for termites and other insects like carpenter ants. While ants are not really a threat to your home, termites can pose a serious issue; therefore, removing dead and old tree stumps from your property can be a good solution. Piles of sawdust near the roots of tree stumps are a tell-tale sign you have a termite invasion.

Can You Keep Termites from Entering Stumps?

It is possible to have a dead stump in your yard that doesn’t attract termites. The only way this can really play out is if there are no termites in the area due to vigilant pest control regimes and the use of biological controls that make your yard uninhabitable for termites.

If there is no environment for termites nearby, then they will not magically appear in your tree stump just because it is dead. However, to be safe, you can treat the stump with boric acid or other toxic for termite solutions to prevent any future termite damage. 

If you plan on preserving the stump in your yard, you can try things like resin or wax to fill in the gaps and treat the soil under the roots with termite control poisons. These precautions will go a long way to prevent termites from seeing what you want to be a decorative stump as a meal for termites.

If you decide to not save the stump, then removal is the best option to avoid needing to continuously treat pests and decay. 

Old Stump Uses

If you have an old stump and are looking for some ideas for what to use it for that might save you money on having to have it removed, you’re in luck. There are plenty of uses for old stumps that can either keep the structure of it growing or make use of the woody material.

If the stump will remain, it is important that the process of using it for your intended goal also provides some form of safeguard against termite invasion. Check out these great options below. 

Grow MushroomsInnoculate your stump with wood-growing mushrooms like shitake or lions mane and watch the mycelium spread through the trunk, and enjoy multiple flushes of tasty fungiMycelium will enter the wood and break down the organic material while producing edible and medicinal mushrooms, and the cellulose breakdown makes mycelium-rich wood uninviting to termites 
Plant a New TreeSlice the stump down the middle and place growing material inside, then plant a new tree on top of the old oneAs the new tree grows through the old one, the roots will emerge and fuse, and the new tree will have access to the large nutrient and moisture network that the older deceased tree cultivated; the living wood of the new trees will repel termites and other pests 
Grind for MulchIf you decide to get rid of the trunk, you can use a stump grinder to turn that hardwood into woodchips and mulchWood chips and mulch can be used through the yard and property for moisture retention, weed suppression, pathway formation, and other practical uses, a ground-up tree stump will not attract termites as the food source has been destroyed 
Remove for WoodworkingOak and other hardwood and attractive tree stumps can be cut down using a chains saw to basically ground level, and the cut wood can be used in woodworking projectsWood is an excellent material, and making use of the wood of a dead tree saves a live one from being felled; once the stump is gone, there will be nothing left to attract termites
Turn into Natural Post When adding fences and other boundary features to a property, old stumps can be treated to prevent bugs from entering and then incorporated into the fence designAdding stumps allows you to avoid having to sink another post and gives a discarded aspect of the landscape a new use; if treated properly, a tree stump shouldn’t attract termites, but retreatment may be needed if signs of pests appear

How to Tell If Stumps Have Termites?

If stumps have become a habitat for termites, it can be difficult to tell at first, but over time you will notice the signs of these pests. It is good to get used to these indicators of pests when they are still going after trees in your yard so you will be able to immediately spot and treat any that make it into your home. Visual clues and sounds will be your best bet in finding termites in old stumps.

Termites chew and spit constantly to make their shelter tubes and to consume the cellulose needed to survive and grow a colony. All of this eating and spitting is loud, and when you know what to listen for can be a way to know exactly where termites are, how big the colony is, and how much activity is occurring.

Wood can either be a habitat for termites or a highway for termites, so checking areas with suspected termite activity at different times of day can increase the odds of hearing a confirmation. 

It is easy to see termite damage once it has progressed to a certain stage and you know what to look for. Outdoors near tree stumps, if it is windy or there is a lot of moisture, it may be harder to notice the sawdust build-up, but signs like holes in the wood and increased brittleness can be observed.

If it is dry and not windy, then the pile of sawdust will build up ostentatiously and act as your best bet for quickly identifying termite intruders. 

How to Remove Termites from Dead Trees?

If there are termites in your dead trees, you will want to act quickly, or they could make their way into your home and wooden furniture. Decks and patios could be similarly affected if termites are free to build colonies and nest throughout your lawn.

Dead trees can be removed or treated to prevent termite infestations. 

To remove termites from dead trees, use a pesticide and apply it according to the liquid termite insecticide label. Borax and hot water can also be used if you want to avoid chemicals in some commercial insecticides. Once the termites are dead and the activity has ceased, you will want to remove the dead trees and try to fill in the tunnels as much as possible to prevent reinfestations.

Follow-up treatments to soil near infested areas are recommended for full yard protection and to stop things like tree stumps from attracting termites onto your lawn.