Does Mulch Attract Termites?

There’s a lot of misinformation out there concerning mulch and termites. Some people believe that mulch is infested with termites, while some others believe it draws them in.

What is evident is that there is a proven correlation between termites and mulch, but many people are unsure about what that link is. Is mulch a magnet for termites? Is there anything you can do about it? In this article, you´ll discover everything you need to know about keeping your home safe from termites.

Does Mulch Attract Termites?

While the substance itself does not attract termites, mulch applied three inches deep creates a favorable environment for the termites. Heat and moisture are trapped next to the ground by organic matter layers. Termites use this dense mulch to protect themselves from the elements.

However, some types of mulch may even repel termites. Resins found in redwood and cypress make the wood less appealing to termites. Thujone, a molecule that repels insects, is found in cedar mulch. Melaleuca wood may be the greatest choice for termite-resistant mulch because the insects actively avoid consuming it.

Rubber and stone provide the same weed and temperature control as mulch, but without the risk of termite infestation.

Why Do Termites Love Mulch?

Your main concern should be what occurs after you’ve spread the mulch around your house. There is evidence to substantiate the attraction link between termites and mulch. This is due to the fact that landscaping mulch keeps the environment moist. 

One of the advantages of mulch is that it retains moisture, which is ideal for the growth of shrubs, flowers, and trees. However, termites, as well as a variety of other bugs and insects, enjoy this wetness. The damp climate stimulates termites to investigate the area by excavating thin tunnels in search of food. Mulch encourages this exploration.

While termites may not feed on mulch, its presence can undoubtedly improve the environment for a termite colony to begin or continue to develop. A more accurate interpretation of the attraction issue would be that mulch boosts a termite’s capacity to survive around your home if they are already present. Mulch may not always attract termites, but it might serve as an invitation for them to feast on your home.

How To Use Mulch Properly

To avoid termite problems, make sure mulch does not come into contact with the building, including the siding or door frames. Keep wood mulch at least six inches away from foundations if possible.

To keep the soil around your house dry and unappealing to termites, avoid soaking the bare strip. When installing sprinklers, make sure they do not splash the exterior of your home. If your yard is prone to flooding, keep the mulch layer to 2 inches or less and rake it on a regular basis to allow it to dry out and aerate.

Consider putting gravel between flowerbeds and outside walls. This spacing makes it more difficult for termites to penetrate while also allowing you to spot the critters’ telltale mud tubes.

Don’t wait if you have termite problems in your house. Damage caused by these parasites frequently necessitates pricey repairs. Act as soon as you notice the problem.

Treat Termites In Mulch In Two Easy Steps

Before we go into how to kill termites in mulch, let’s look at the signs that you have termites in your mulch. If you detect any of these signs, you must act quickly.

  • Physical Sightings of Termites in Mulch. Physical sightings of termites in mulch are a sure sign of their presence. Simply distribute some mulch, and if there are termites behind the mulch layer, you’ll see them crawling.
  • Piles of Mud in Mulch. Termites tend to create small mud hills on mulch. These mud hills can also form a ring around a tree. The presence of mud hills in your yard indicates the presence of subterranean termites.
  • Dead Termites. If you find dead termites in your yard or garden, it’s a two-pronged indicator of termite and ant presence. Ants eat termites, thus there must be a struggle going on in your yard between termites and ants.
  • Mud Tubes. To reach their food source, subterranean termites construct mud tubes on hard structures such as walls, ceilings, or lumber. Mud tubes rising from the ground where you’ve stored the mulches indicate a termite infestation.

Now that you’ve identified the indicators of termite infestation in mulch, it’s time to eradicate them. However, while removing them, you must ensure that the soil’s quality is not jeopardized. You especially wouldn’t want to do that if you have a garden in your backyard.

So, if you want to get rid of termites, don’t apply chemical pesticides to the mulch. This will deplete the soil’s nutrients, which your plants require to flourish. Instead, there are several natural techniques to get rid of termites from mulch that are very effective.

Sprinkle Diatomaceous Earth On The Mulch

When it comes to removing termites and other bugs from soil and mulch, food-grade diatomaceous earth works great. Diatomaceous earth pierces termite skin and absorbs moisture, causing termites to die quickly.

To make matters worse for termites, diatomaceous earth adheres to their bodies. When a termite covered in diatomaceous earth returns to its nest, it spreads to other termites.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is safe for plants, as well as for you, your pets, and your children. You can also substitute diatomaceous earth for boric acid. Simply combine one teaspoon of boric acid with one cup of hot water.

If you have a large yard or garden, you’ll need more than one cup of water, simply adjust the measure to the size of your garden. However, it’s better to stick with the same proportions, one teaspoon for every cup of hot water. When it’s done, just spray the mulch with the mixture.

Boric acid kills termites by dehydrating them, and it is also non-hazardous to the soil since it can be found in it. Just make sure to stick to the recommended mixture composition of one teaspoon for every cup of water.

To be most effective, you’d need to spray the mulch with a mixture of boric acid and hot water twice a day for three days in a row to kill the termites.

Use Nematodes To Eliminate Any Remaining Termites

Nematodes are natural insect and termite killers that do not harm the soil’s quality. They are easily accessible, and all you have to do is sprinkle nematodes over the termite-infested mulch area and let them do their work.

Termites In Landscape Supply Store Mulch

If you buy mulch from a landscape supply store, chances are they will offer a variety of mulches. It is critical to pick through and dig through the mulch you bring home. Keep a watch out for termites in the mulch you just purchased. If you have purchased termite-resistant mulch, there is a 0% probability that termites will be found in it.

If your mulch contains termites and you’ve already unloaded it from a trailer, it’s best to rake it across the lawn. When termites are exposed to sunlight and grass, they are promptly devoured by ants. If you notice termites in the mulch while it is still in the bag or in the trailer, it is recommended that you return it and obtain treated or termite-resistant mulch.

Fact: If you put 100 termites in a shovel of mulch and put it in your garden, the termites will die. Termites are part of a healthy colony that cannot exist without access to the underground tunnels that connect the termite colony. Termites that are not eaten by ants will eventually die off, usually within 12-24 hours.

Also, termites have a small probability of surviving the mulching process that occurs prior to the bagging of mulch. Termites’ lives are shortened when they are isolated from their colony. So the truth is that the chances of termites attacking your home via store-bought mulch are slim to none.

Termite Resistant Mulch

When purchasing mulch, it is considerably safer to use one of the many termite-resistant types. The following mulch kinds are most commonly used since they are considered to be termite-resistant:

1 – Cypress Heartwood. This is the most termite-resistant wood. This species of heartwood contains a high concentration of resin, which is toxic to termites. This mulch, too, takes a long time to decompose.

2 – Cedar Mulch. Termite repellants are also present in cedar mulch. Termites can be poisoned by the resins contained in these heartwoods.

3 – Tea Tree Mulch. This mulch comes from the melaleuca shrub and contains tea tree oil, which repels termites.

4 – Treated Mulch. Termites can avoid this form of mulch, although normally the timber is treated before being crushed down into mulch, leaving some portions or corners of the mulch newly cut and allowing termites access to consume.

Final Thoughts

By following these basic steps, you can go a long way toward ensuring that your mulch, as well as your property, is termite-free.