Termites and Mulch can go together to prevent Termite Infestation!
by Brian Mase
Termites can cause a lot of damage to your client’s property, so there’s a legitimate reason to be concerned about the ways they can infest a home. Because termites love wood, and mulch is made of wood, it may feel like common sense for your customers to make a strong association between both things.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of confusion out there about the relationship between termites and mulch. If you or your clients have unanswered questions about this relationship, we might have the answer for you. With the right information, you can improve your chances of preventing a termite problem at any property you service.
1. Termites Are Unlikely to Come with Packaged Mulch
It’s been a popular rumor for some time that termites travel around in bags of mulch just waiting to infest the building they end up calling home. The truth is, however, that termites rarely survive long enough in bags of mulch to make it to any landscape. There are multiple obstacles to their survival.
- Surviving the chipping process is highly unlikely.
- Once separated from their colony, termites tend to die very quickly.
Termites are also known to have much shorter lifespans if they feed on the wood contained in mulch than on solid wood. The chance of you opening a bag of mulch with a live termite while working on a client’s property is slim to none.
2. Termites Are Attracted to Mulch, But Not for the Reasons You May Think
It’s reasonable to think that termites would be attracted to mulch because many mulches are made, at least partly, of wood. Termites don’t love mulch because they want to it eat the wood, however. They love it because it provides a cool and moist space. That’s why you should worry less about mulch containing termites from the store and more about mulch attracting the termites that may already be living near your property.
Piles of mulch around your house can create a very inviting environment for termites and other insects and critters in the area. It’s more important to pay attention to environments around your home that may be friendly to termite growth rather than introducing a problem with a bag of mulch.
3. Termite Resistant Mulches Are Available
How attracted termites are to a particular mulch depends on the ingredients used to make it. If you’re really concerned about termites infesting your client’s property, mulch colorant manufacturers can make sure to include ingredients that are toxic or a deterrent to termites is crucial.
For example, Cypress sapwood, slash pine, and loblolly pine is delicious to termites while Cypress heartwood, melaleuca, California redwood, and eucalyptus are known to shorten their lifespan.
According to studies from the University of Hawaii, cedar can repel, kill, or inhibit termite colonies from developing. Most mulches don’t come treated with any anti-termite chemicals, but the ones that do should be clearly labeled.
4. Termites and Mulch – You Can Still Use Mulch and Prevent Termites
Overall, mulch is a problem when it comes to termites because it offers them a place to travel and call home, not because bagged mulch is a meal or a source for termites where none previously existed.
In fact, other ground coverings, like gravel, offer just as friendly an environment for termites to approach home siding. Despite these issues, you can still protect your client’s home by treating the perimeter with subterranean termite control chemicals before you place mulch over it.
Termites and Mulch — According to The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida, landscapers should be careful not to lay mulch thicker than 4 to 6 inches next to siding. Thick mulch can create termite pathways and prevent proper pest inspections. You can also use bait stations as well as insect growth regulators or boric acid solutions to control termite populations as needed.
You’re pretty much guaranteed to find termites in the soil of any property, so let your clients know that creating a bare and boring lawn because they’re worried about the connection between mulch and termites is pointless. Termites usually have plenty of wood to eat in the soil and will never bother looking for food in their home. Homeowners can add beautiful colored mulch to their homes with peace of mind by knowing exactly where the real risks are.
“Termites and Mulch“, by Brian Mase