Like many other homeowners during spring, you’re probably getting back to the garden. As you pour new mulch over your garden beds, you might wonder, “Does mulch attract termites? What do I do if I see termites in my mulch?”
Today, we’re answering these prevalent questions. Let’s talk about mulch and termites!
DOES MULCH SPREAD TERMITES?
It’s improbable for termites to spread via infested bags of mulch or wood chips. While finding termites in a bag of mulch is possible, it is very rare.
First, the chipper that turns large branches into mulch would likely mulch up any termites contained in the tree.
Furthermore, it’s doubtful that these termites would even survive long living in the mulch bags. Termites like a steady consistent temperate with lots of moisture. A bag of mulch can get quite warm and dry when left in the sun, so they would most likely die.
Finally, even if the termites were alive, they wouldn’t last long separated from the termite colony. You don’t have to worry about getting termites in your house from a bad bag of mulch from the store – the odds are minuscule.
DOES MULCH ATTRACT TERMITES?
Like the question above, the answer to “Does mulch attract termites?” is no.
Mulch does not attract termites in the same way solid does. There are different types of mulch, but most wood chip mulch consists of hardwood trees like oak, ash, hickory, eucalyptus, and so on. Soft wood like pine, fir, spruce, and white birch typically makes framing wood for houses.
So, termites are likely not attracted to the actual wood in mulch the same way they are to wood in your home. 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. They prefer your house!
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—common termites in Ohio—live in underground colonies. Worker termites leave searching 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.”
These are long tunnels about the width of a pencil made of wood and soil that protect the termites from open air. Wherever food is found, the workers carry it back to share with the rest of the colony.
Moisture helps termite exploration and tunneling. This is where mulch comes in. Mulch protects against erosion and helps soil retain moisture (among other benefits). This means, mulch may improve soil conditions for termites.
At this point, you might be raking up all of the mulch in your garden. Not so fast!
As we said above, mulch and the moisture it provides don’t attract termites. 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 home!
- 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 essential 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 essential to call a pest control professional. Termite treatment is not something that homeowners can DIY. (DIY termite treatments have an abysmal success rate, allowing termites to keep chowing down on your house!)
That said, don’t panic! Termites work slowly, so you have 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.