Question: A maple tree in my back yard—my dogs have been digging at the base of it for a while. Recently I have noticed maybe 2 feet from the base, going up the base of the tree it is wet. There are perfectly round holes that look like they have been drilled into the base of the tree. I am told that the moisture is just the H2O seeping out of the tree! Is it termites? Should I cut it down? Will it spread?
ANSWER: I’m not sure what it is you found on the tree roots (and don’t know what would make those holes … beetles maybe)—but you don’t have termites. Native and Eastern subterranean termites do not typically infest live trees. Regardless, termites do not make round holes on the damaged wood. It could be some bark beetles (subfamily Scolytinae), and what you perceive as water flowing from the holes may be sap from the tree. This is a typical sign of infestation. The exit holes left by these beetles will resemble holes created by shotgun shot. A tree expert might be able to give you more information. You could also contact your local Department of Agriculture for some additional help in locating an arborist.