Termites in my garden??

katiegreyApril 19, 2007

I was in my garden today (raised bed lined with cinder blocks) and I was digging in the holes of the cinder blocks (where I have put some topsoil so I can plant marigolds) to plant some seeds and I dug up what appeared to be termites, little clearish/yellowish larvae type things and others with wings. I went online to ID them and make sure they weren't just ant larvae. The pictures online look exactly what is living in my garden.

So now I am a bit freaked out, where did they come from and how do I remove them? Is this common? I am fairly new to gardening and am not a TN native. My husband and I recently purchased some topsoil and mulch from a local nursery and I dug through the top soil today and there are termites in there too. There is a lot of dead wood in the top soil we bought, so I'm assuming that's what they are eating.

Has anyone had this problem before? I'm really stressing out about it. Our house has a termite contract and they come out and check it once a year to make sure everything is ok and last year sprayed the base of the house with some sort of chemical to deter termites.

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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

As I was told when looking into this a few years ago, it's not a matter of IF you have termites on your property, but where.

Termites not only outnumber the human race, they outweigh us as well. Think about that one for a minute...

If your house and other structures are properly protected, don't worry about them in your garden. They help break down the wood in the mulch and topsoil. They are a part of nature and have their purpose. Just keep them where they are.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 11:10AM
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bigorangevol(Nashville)

Katie every yard has termites in it. Don't sweat it. They just had their swarm a couple of weeks ago.

Like Joe said, just make sure that your home and outbuildings are protected and you'll be fine.

BTW, make sure that you come to the Middle Tennessee Plant Swap on May 19th.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 1:42PM
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cannahavana(z7a Knoxville)

Yep we have termites in the garden. They are currently eating our mailbox post.

Rebecca

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 7:56PM
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behaviorkelton(7-ish)

So do those termite bait things work? ($60: the green plastic deals that you stick in the ground?)

I guess I'm asking if there are good home-owner solutions to protecting the home from these ever-present termites.

I agree they are a part of the garden, but what's the good way of keeping 'em off the house?!

    Bookmark   April 19, 2007 at 9:17PM
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katiegrey

Thanks for all the replies. This is my first house and have only lived here for a few years, so things like this scare me easily.It was just so surprising when I was digging in the garden and I dug up tons of them, not to mention they are not the prettiest of creatures!

I feel a lot better now. :

What is the Middle TN plant swap? What city does this take place in?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 12:58AM
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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

Katie: If you haven't already seen it, check out this thread. Middle Tennessee Plant Swap
That should get you all the info you need.

behaviorkelton: They will work just fine if you do the maintenance. Here's the way it works. You put those in the ground with the bait strips. Then you check the bait strips once a month. When you see signs of termite damage on a bait strip (A piece of wood) you replace it with a poison strip. (A piece of wood soaked in poison)

The termites take that wood back to the colony and it kills many more that way.

But you have to keep up the checking. Forever.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 8:53AM
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brandon7 TN_zone(7)

OK, this may be a dumb question, but why don't you just leave the poison wood in the trap and change it out occasionally?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2007 at 9:46PM
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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

The poison will start to loose it's potentcy once it is exposed to the air. You want to put them just where and when they are needed. They are the expensive part too, I think.

Well, once you get the traps in the ground.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2007 at 3:49PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I just noticed termites in my garden the other day. My house is about 4 years old and is treated for these buggers. I recently built sunboxes out of Freecycle wood I picked up from someone. I can't be 100% sure because I didn't notice the bugs last year, but maybe this wood had the buggers in it and they are in my garden where I put the sunboxes over a month ago. I want to get rid of them, but don't want to turn my garden into a toxic pit. Should I toss the sun boxes I worked so hard to make and consider it a learning experience? These bugs are only hanging around one of the frames.. the one with the worst-looking piece of wood in the frame. They are crawling around the box closest to the left side of this picture:

My yard is ultra small, so there will be no relocating the garden. The proximity of the garden to the house with these buggers crawling in them is unnerving. I just looked at my contract and I have a 5-year guarantee for the treatment. I think I should call this pest control company to check it out.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2008 at 10:48PM
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tngreenthumb(z6 TN)

It's possible, but not likely. Any termites that might have been in the wood would almost certainly been workers. They don't reporoduce. Only the queens do that.

Now if the wood had previously been tunneled into, they might find that as an easy access, but they were already somewhere nearby.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 4:32PM
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anntn6b(z6b TN)

If the wood had had a small termite colony in it, you would have noticed how much lighter it was.
You do need to move that box and watch that they aren't in your ground or getting into your deck. They don't care what they eat, as long as it's 'wood'.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 4:47PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

The boards were not any heavier than some fresh wood I bought at Lowes to finish the boxes. I do feel slightly relieved after reading your responses. I inspected the box where they were crawling after work today and didn't see a single bug, but it was also lightly raining. I'm actually a bit perplexed as the wood for that box is mostly new and of the old pieces.. I don't see any 'iffy' spots, holes or rotting.

I actually moved that box and replaced it with another box in the same spot (lettuce sprouted in the ground there last week and it's too early to not protect them). Looking over the 'infected' frame.. I didn't see any structural damage and not a single bug anywhere in or on the wood. When it dries out, I'll see if they return. So I should look for knots and hollowed-out parts on this wood? One other possibility...I collected pine needles last fall for compost materials from a random neighborhood close to where I work. Maybe they came from there? I have a couple plastic bags of these needles under my deck, so I better inspect those too. The good news is that if they try to eat the treated wood that comprises my deck (arsenic) it'll be the last piece of wood they ever chew.

Do the queens lay eggs and move on? Maybe the warmness in the boxes allowed them to hatch?

    Bookmark   March 14, 2008 at 10:28PM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

The boards were not any heavier than some fresh wood I bought at Lowes to finish the boxes. I do feel slightly relieved after reading your responses. I inspected the box where they were crawling after work today and didn't see a single bug, but it was also lightly raining. I'm actually a bit perplexed as the wood for that box is mostly new and of the old pieces.. I don't see any 'iffy' spots, holes or rotting.

I actually moved that box and replaced it with another box in the same spot (lettuce sprouted in the ground there last week and it's too early to not protect them). Looking over the 'infected' frame.. I didn't see any structural damage and not a single bug anywhere in or on the wood. When it dries out, I'll see if they return. So I should look for knots and hollowed-out parts on this wood? One other possibility...I collected pine needles last fall for compost materials from a random neighborhood close to where I work. Maybe they came from there? I have a couple plastic bags of these needles under my deck, so I better inspect those too. The good news is that if they try to eat the treated wood that comprises my deck (arsenic) it'll be the last piece of wood they ever chew.

Do the queens lay eggs and move on? Maybe the warmness in the boxes allowed them to hatch?

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 1:01AM
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bencjedi(6 - Central Kentucky)

I changed my mind and completely moved the boxes farther from the house, digging up the area and putting my cattle panel trellis there. Hopefully I disturbed the bugger's turf. I didn't see any today either (still raining). It's not like I saw hundreds of them running around.. never more than 3 at a time. They were easy to see running up the white foam insulation I used for my boxes. If I understand it right, these are 'worker' termites and without a queen, they can't grow in numbers. Let's just hope there's no queen. At least the boxes are away from the house now too.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2008 at 10:57PM
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tndandelion(7b Memphis)

I've had termite experience and it's not pretty. The damage was pretty extensive around one window and all the sheetrock, wood, etc had to be removed/replaced.

My dh was out of the country the first spring that they swarmed. It was a small swarm (100 or less) and I had some of the windows open and being oblivious to this kind of stuff...I just thought some bugs had come in and I removed them by hand. They stayed by this one particular window so after I removed them....I thought nothing else about it.

Well...lol my dh came back home and decided to do some repair work to this one wall/window. When he pulled the sheetrock back, the wood was all eaten up! He explained that it was termites and that's when the lightbulb went off in my head about the previous spring's bugs. We immediately called a termite service to come out ASAP (it was the following spring and swarm season was imminent) and we took plastic and sealed off the window.

The day the termite service co arrived to treat our house (it had been untreated for years), they swarmed but were trapped in the window. The swarm was fairly significant that time.

Oh man!!! Dh replaced the wood and all is good now!

    Bookmark   March 16, 2008 at 12:11AM
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Southern_Miss

We planted turnips in our garden late last year and they were flourishing. I got to noticing within a few months that the leaves started turning dark and began to be eaten and some leaves just died. I figured I could at least salvage the roots and when I began to pluck them up I noticed that termites had tunneled into the roots. Prior to now I knew we had termites in our yard but had been unaware that they would eat anything other than wood. I asked around to some old green thumbs and most all of them were aware that termites can devastate a garden. As I was told, by the time you start to notice changes in your plants and vegetables, it's too late. At present, I am looking for veggie-safe suggestions on how to deal with these buggers before replanting in that particular spot.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2011 at 9:44AM
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mtwocats

Same problem. i am going to try diatomaceous earth dug into the topsoil and see if that helps keep my pepper plants intact.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2013 at 4:05PM
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Fitzsimons

I know this is an old thread, but I too found termites in my garden. discovered yesterday when I harvested a few radishes. One of them had termites in the radish. I looked throughout the soil and found more. I squished the ones I could find, and used a vinegar solution to try and kill the rest. Just ordered nematodes to release in the soil. That's the best organic way to kill unwanted soil pests.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2014 at 1:27AM
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