Mulch can benefit your landscapes and agriculture, including economic, environmental, and aesthetic value. They can help control soil erosion, enhance soil nutrients, conserve moisture, and reduce the residual impact of pesticides. Despite these advantages, many rumors about the relationship between mulch and termites are circulating. People often wonder if termites are attracted to mulch and, if so, what can be done to prevent them. To learn more about this much-debated topic, read on for some essential facts.
Termites and Mulch
Mulch can contribute to termite infestations, but only when there is already a preexisting presence of these elusive predators in the surrounding area. Mulch can increase the survival rate of termites and provide a bridge for them to cross over and invade your home. If you plan to use mulch around your property, it is essential to seek advice on termite protection to prevent an infestation.
Does Mulch Attract Termites?
It is not accurate to say that mulch causes termites, but using excessive amounts can create an attractive environment for termites. There’s no such thing as termite resistant mulch, but a thin layer of wood mulch may be better. A thick layer of mulch, more than three inches deep, can create a damp and moist habitat that is inviting to termites. Termites can then shelter in these areas and build tunnels through the mulch to access your home through any gaps in the foundation or brickwork.
Do Specific Types of Mulch Attract Termites?
Certain types of mulch are more attractive to termites than others. Termites feed on wood, so mulch made from softwood or bark is more likely to attract them or other pests. Avoid using the below types of wood chip mulch if possible:
- Cypress mulch: Sapwood is a perfect meal for termites
- Pine bark mulch: Tends to attract various garden pests and termites
- Loblolly pine mulch: Is highly preferred by termites
There are a few termite-resistant mulches you can try instead:
- Cedar mulch: Acts as a natural pest repellent
- Cypress heartwood mulch: Has resin that is toxic to termites
- Melaleuca mulch: Termites don’t like to eat or burrow under it
Eucalyptus and California redwood mulches are a few more types of mulch to steer clear of.
Mulching Tips for Avoiding Termite Infestations
Just because you have mulch around your property does not necessarily mean that you have a termite infestation. However, it does increase the risk of one developing. To reduce the risk, here are some tips for mulching.
Regularly Sweep Mulch
Over time, mulches break down and can become mixed with fallen leaves, twigs, and other plant matter. It’s important to regularly sweep and rake up this debris to expose any potential hiding spots for termites. Termites cannot survive for long in direct sunlight, so exposing them to sunlight can help control their population. Removing the debris will also allow any moisture trapped below the mulch to dry up, which can deter termites.
Regularly maintaining your mulched areas in this way helps control termite infestations and restore the beauty of your landscape.
Make sure that you don’t water directly on your home’s perimeter zone, and fix any leaks or sealing cracks that may allow moisture to accumulate. Checking for condensation near foundations can also help prevent termites from finding a comfortable thriving environment.
Proper drainage around your home’s foundation can help prevent standing water, which can attract termites in mulch and other pests.
Keep Mulch Away From the House
There is a direct connection between termites, wood chips, and your home foundation. Do not pile mulch too high against your sidewalls, or it can become a bridge into your home.
You also want to avoid spraying pesticides on the mulch, as it will do more harm than good. Pesticides will kill all vital organisms in the mulch and soil, which is bad news for your landscape.
The best solution is to keep a one-foot wide mulch-free zone before the exterior walls. Keep this area as dry as possible, and limit the mulching depth to a few inches only. Look for any termite mud tubes that pop up during the process or signs of even a few termites.
If possible, use pea gravel or other non wood based mulches to discourage a termite colony from settling in your home.
Consult the Experts
Regular termite inspections will help you eliminate potential problems. If termites are a known issue in your area or you’ve had a previous termite infestation, taking extra precautions with mulch is essential. Consider getting a risk assessment from a termite control expert to repel termites. Don’t wait too long, as termite damage can be costly and extensive.
Eliminate Termites With Budget Brothers
Budget Brothers are industry leaders in offering the best termite eradication programs. Our hands-on experts are just a call away. You can bank on us to deliver the most effective, long-term, safe solution against these dreaded pests.