The Q&A Archives: Termites in Garden

Question: Do termites eat plant/bush roots?

If I spray the area with chemicals how long is it toxic to cats and will the chemicals damage plant life?

I had an antique wine press in my flower garden. It keeled over last week due to termite infestation in legs. I removed it and this week I saw tons of termites in the mulch in the area it had been and two of my bleeding hearts, peonea and several other plants in the same area have also keeled over.

Answer: Since termites can be such a devastating problem to buildings and other wooden structures, I suggest you a) verify that what you have found is actually termite activity and b) contact a professional termite service to assist or advise you on how to deal with the matter. In addition, your County Extension should be able to help you definitely identify the pest and offer information about the most up-to-date control measures available. The safety with regard to people, pets and plants will depend on the specific chemicals used, if any.

Finally, it is my understanding that termites will eat decayed or moist wood or cellulose but in my experience they do not expressly attack plants. (They will infest mulch.) It is possible that the insect is tunneling through the soil and as a consequence causing underground disturbance of the roots of nearby plants. Again, you need to have definite identification of the insect before you can begin to figure out the best way to control it. I'm so sorry about the infestation!

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