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Does Mulch Attract Termites to Properties?

A fair number of people use wood-based mulches around flowerbeds to preserve moisture, control weeds, and provide plant nutrients. But despite these benefits, homeowners fear that using mulch may attract termites. After all, termites feed on the cellulose found in wood materials. Plus, layers of mulch create dampness in the soil, making it conducive for subterranean termites. So, does mulch attract termites?

If so, what is the solution? Let’s find out.

How Does Mulch Attract Termites?

Mulch may not necessarily be the cause of a termite infestation, but it can host these pests. Subterranean termites build their nests underground and only come to the surface to search for food. If they find wood chip mulch, they might be attracted to it. Even though mulch may not be their favorite food, it creates a conducive environment for termites.

In addition, the type of wood you use in the mulch can increase the risk of termites. For instance, pine bark mulch and most softwoods contain a lot of cellulose, which termites love. However, mulch alone cannot provide sufficient food to support a termite colony. But it can act as a medium through which they access your home. So, it’s best to take precautions by using mulch that is less likely to attract termites.

Which Mulch Is More Resistant to Termites

Generally, hardwood mulches are more termite-resistant than softwood. That’s because hardwoods contain resins that repel termites. In other words, termites don’t eat them, and neither do they live underneath them. Below are the types of mulch you can safely use.

  • California redwood – This tree is the only softwood that repels termites. It contains resins that repel termites’ and is also rot-resistant. Due to its properties, it’s sometimes used in railroad ties.
  • Cypress heartwood – This wood has anti-fungal properties that repel termites and other types of pests. Keep in mind that other cypress trees have sapwood that attracts termites, meaning it’s only the cypress heartwood that works.
  • Melaleuca – This tree grows in Florida swamps, and its mulch is effective in repelling termites just like the cypress heartwood.
  • Cedar mulch – It contains natural oils and a thujone chemical that repels termites and other bugs. Even though cedar mulch is expensive, it can last for many years. So you won’t have to reapply it often.

You can buy termite-resistant mulch from stores. This mulch is less likely to contain termites because the pests can hardly survive the chipping process. If they do, they can’t survive for long away from the colony and in airtight bags.

How to Prevent Termites in Mulch

Termites can easily move from the mulch to your house. To avoid that, you can do away with mulch altogether or use termite-resistant mulch. Alternatively, you can also use pea gravel. Since they have no wood materials, stone pebbles have no risk of attracting termites. Other termite control techniques include:

  • Keeping mulch away from the house – Leave a gap of at least one foot between the mulch and the foundation of your house to prevent termites in the mulch from getting into your house.
  • Using thin layers of mulch – The thicker the layer of mulch, the more moisture it preserves. Therefore, avoid using mulch layers exceeding two inches.
  • Inspecting the Mulch Regularly – Check for signs of termites in the mulch and take regular pest control measures to ensure a pest-free property. If you see mud tubes, you may have a termite infestation.

How to Treat Termites in Mulch

If you see signs of termites in mulch, take action to prevent these pests from spreading to your house. Avoid using pesticides, as they might kill living organisms beneficial to the soil. As such, hire a professional pest control expert to help you get rid of the termites.

McDonald Pest Control Company provides pest control services to residents of Clearwater and Clearwater Beach. We inspect and treat termite infestations on residential and commercial properties. Do you need pest control services?

Book an appointment with our professional pest control expert today.