Does Mulch attract termites? The short answer is, no, it doesn’t. The long answer, well, it sort of does.
Feeling confused? Don’t worry; we’ll explain all about mulch and termites to figure out if their attraction is a mere myth or a reality.
We’ll also learn about the prevention and treatment methods of termite-infested mulch. So, let’s delve in!
Contrary to popular belief, termites aren’t specifically attracted to mulch. Although it might seem that mulched lawns are bound to be invaded by termites, that isn’t really the case since other contributing factors lead to a termite-infested mulch.
Mulch works great as a moisture-retainer, and a soil temperature moderator. Many homeowners use mulch to spruce up their landscapes.
Beautifully mulched landscapes can be harmful to the house foundation or the house itself.
Correct placement of mulch and correct usage lessens the probability of it being infested by termites. It also protects your house’s foundation from being compromised by termites.
Since termites are attracted to moisture, much as other bugs, mulch environment is ideal for them. Mulch provides that moisture that helps the termite colonies survive and thrive.
Although mulch isn’t termites’ go-to food, it offers a great kick-start to their colonization. As they spread to areas where the soil is connected to the wood and feast on it.
Termites are invasive insects that feed on materials containing cellulose, such as wood. They make tunnels or tubes in the ground to reach the wood.
Usually, it’s to your house’s foundation. Termites eat it inside out, and that’s when it gets dangerous.
Mulch is a material that is spread over the surface of the soil. It can be made from various materials, organic and inorganic. The following materials can be used as mulch:
- Grass cuttings
- Hay and straw
- Newspaper cuttings
Mulch preserves the moisture in the soil, suppresses the growth of weeds, and protects the plants from wind and direct sun rays.
There are also types of mulch that improve the soil’s fertility by decomposing and providing it with nutrients.
As mentioned earlier, mulch in itself isn’t attractive to termites. But, there are types of mulch that repel termites. Some of the most common termite repelling mulches are:
Due to the great amount of resin in the timber of the heartwood cypress, its mulch becomes repellent to termites. Cedar heartwood is also anti-fungal and has a lower rate of decay.
Similarly, the resin found in cedar trees and its oil repel termites. Its resin is toxic to termites, making it a great mulch choice.
Cedar mulch can also repel other insects such as house ants and cockroaches.
Also known as tea tree mulch, the tea tree oil in the melaleuca mulch repels termites and insects effectively.
This is chemically treated mulch, that takes longer to break down and decay, which makes it a less than welcoming spot for the termites to be.
How To Protect Your Mulch from a Termite Infestation?
“Better safe than sorry” is spot on when it comes to termite infestation. Here are some methods on how to protect your mulch from a termite invasion:
1 – Correct Mulch Placement
Termites can be a threat to your house’s foundation if you don’t place your mulch correctly. Here’s how you can use mulch without risking termites chomping on your foundations:
- Make sure to leave 6 inches between the house and mulch. You can accomplish this by digging a ditch around an inch deep around the house, or by using gravel or plastic dividers.
This space will act as a barrier and will lessen the chance of your house being infested by termites.
- Keep mulch 3 inches below weep poles, and make sure that the weep hole isn’t covered.
Weep holes decrease the moisture in your house, making it a less attractive environment to termites.
2 – Termite-Resistant Mulch
Using termite repelling mulch is a great method to prevent termite infestation. However, make sure to change it every two to three years, as it decays and breaks down over time.
3 – Termite Killer Granules
Spread them into the soil and around your house’s foundation, and water them. They last for around six to nine months and will prevent any termite colony from developing in your land.
4 – Thin Mulch Layers
Make sure to use a thin layer of mulch, as piling it will retain even more moisture, making it an appropriate environment for the termites.
It will also cover the termites and make it harder to notice them.
5 – Watering and Sprinklers
Moisture is insanely attractive to termites. So, make sure to keep your house dry not to attract termites.
Use gravel between flowerbeds so that the dry slot will protect your house from any termite infestation. Let your mulch dry out and aerate as its constant dampness will attract termites.
6 – Natural Oils
Oils can work as a great pesticide and a prevention method against termite invasion. Clove bud, citrus, garlic, orange, and cedar oils are great termite repellents.
7 – Protective Layer
Apply a separating layer between the soil and the mulch. Landscape cloth is a great option.
8 – Monitoring
Being on the watch for termites will help you to notice them early and quicken the treatment process. Here are some signs that indicate termite presence in mulch:
- Mud tunnels or tubes are a major sign of termite invasion. They build it using their saliva or droppings, along with wood and soil.
- Mud piles, if you notice mud piles or hills in the mulch, it’s an indicative sign of termite infestation.
- Live and dead termites, if you see termites in mulch, then the mulch is infested.
Similarly, noticing dead termites is a sign of the presence of termite and ants infestation.
If prevention fails and your mulch still gets infested by termites, a pest control exterminator is your best bet. Early treatment will reduce the effects and financial loss from the termite invasion.
But don’t make a rash decision. Take your time to look into several pest control companies and check their licenses. Compare the pricing, guarantees, and insurances they offer.
“Does mulch attract termites?” is a question that causes distress and confusion to gardeners and homeowners.
They seem to be confused about whether termites’ attraction to mulch is a reality or a mere myth and whether a termite infestation in their mulch is inescapable.
We discovered that mulch doesn’t necessarily attract termites. Having mulch in your yard doesn’t mean that you’ll eventually have termites.
If you simply remove the causes that increase the chances of a termite infestation and take the prevention methods seriously, you’re good to go. Happy gardening!
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.