Mulch & Termite Treatment 101

Spring has arrived! Like many other homeowners, you’re probably getting back to the garden. As you pour new mulch over your garden beds, you might have wondered: “Does mulch attract termites? What do I do if I see termites in my mulch?”

Today, we’re answering these very common questions. Let’s talk about mulch and termites!

Does Mulch Spread Termites?

The good news is that no, mulch does not “cause” termites.

First, it’s highly unlikely for termites to spread via infested bags of mulch. While it is possible to find termites in a bag of mulch, it is rare. Furthermore, it’s doubtful that these termites would even survive long living in the mulch bags. Finally, even if the termites were alive, they wouldn’t last long separated from their colony.

That means you don’t need to worry about giving your house termites from a rogue, “infested” bag of mulch from the hardware store.

Does Mulch Attract Termites?

Like the question above, the answer to “Does mulch attract termites?” is no.

Termites are not attracted to mulch in the same way that they are to hard wood. In fact, a study done by the University of Maryland found that the survival rate of termites fed a diet of eucalyptus, hardwood, or pine bark mulch was far lower than the survivorship of termites fed a diet of white birch. Essentially, this means it’s unlikely that termites feed heavily on mulch.

But if mulch doesn’t attract termites, how might your home get termites instead? And what should you do for termite treatment?

How Mulch Affects Termites

To understand the relationship between mulch and termites, we need to talk about how termites operate.

Subterranean termites—a type of termite common in Ohio—live in colonies underground. Worker termites leave in search for food—sometimes tunneling up to 300 feet from the nest site! You can see evidence of the termites’ aboveground search for food in the form of “mud tubes,” which are long tunnels about the width of a pencil that are made of wood and soil and protect the termites from open air. Wherever food is found, the workers carry it back to share with the rest of the colony.

Termite exploration and tunneling is made easier by moisture. This is where mulch comes in. Mulch serves to protect against erosion and help soil retain moisture (among other benefits). This means that mulch may improve soil conditions for termites.

At this point, you might be thinking of raking up all of the mulch in your garden. Not so fast!

As we said above, mulch and the moisture it provides doesn’t attract termites. In fact, termites have been found equally as often below mulch, pea gravel, and uncovered soil.

Instead, what happens is that termites might stick around after wandering into a mulched area that has plenty of moisture and food. And that leads us to our next important point: how to make sure that termites don’t see your home as a food source.

Why Mulch Placement Matters

While mulch does provide hospitable conditions for termites in the soil below, you can still use mulch safely in your garden. However, the mulch placement matters.

When placing mulch, remember the following dos and don’ts:

  • DO keep mulch several inches away from the foundation of your house. You don’t want any termites to be encouraged to wander close to your house!
  • DON’T let mulch touch your windowsills or the siding of your house. Again, you don’t want to give termites any reason to get close to your home.
  • DO watch your mulch for signs of termite activity. Mulch can be used, but it’s important to keep an eye out for signs of a termite problem.

What to Do If You Suspect Termites

If you do see termite activity in the mulch close to your home, or you see another sign of termite activity, it’s important to call a pest control professional. Termite treatment is not something that homeowners can DIY. (DIY termite treatments have a very poor success rate, allowing termites to keep chowing down on your house!)

That said, don’t panic! Termites work slowly, so you have a little time to get termite treatment solutions from a reputable company (like ScherZinger Pest Control).

To learn more about your options for termite treatment, read our previous blog post.

Call Us Today for Trusted Termite Treatment

ScherZinger Pest Control is a trusted pest control company in the Greater Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky areas, including Dayton and Columbus. We’ve been pioneers who have engineered new standards for ways of eliminating and controlling bugs and pests. Contact us by phone at 1-877-748-9888 or through our website or Facebook.