Does Mulch Attract Termites? (And How To Prevent Termites From Being A Threat Because of the Mulch)

If you are into gardening, mulch is essential to keeping a lovely yard. Mulch is an ideal way to conserve moisture, thereby cutting down on water usage, which is something you want to do for your landscaping in Arizona. With our dry climate, especially in the summer months, maintaining moisture will help keep your garden healthy while reducing the need to water your plants. 

Unfortunately, mulch attracts termites. Though you might think that termites feed on mulch because it is made of wood chips, termites love mulch for another reason. Though termites eating wood may consume specific types of wood-based mulches, such as pine bark mulch or most softwood species, the conditions mulch creates attract termites. Since termites thrive in a dark and moist environment, mulch presents them with ideal conditions because mulch holds moisture. Termites form colonies underground before swarmers look for another place to establish a nest. The threat from termites is when mulch is too near your house foundation or has no barriers between the mulch and your house.

How To Use Mulch The Right Way To Prevent Termite Infestation?

The threat of termites shouldn’t deter you from using mulch in your garden. Though subterranean termites may thrive in mulch, you can prevent them from being a threat because of it.

Do Not Let Mulch Touch Any Part of Your House

Placing mulch adjacent to any part of your house, such as the foundation, the siding, or structural elements, will present a highway for termites to access your home. Ideally, you should keep mulch far away from any structural aspects of your house. However, the minimum distance recommended by experts is at least 12 inches.

Place Gravel Between Your House and The Mulch

Gravel presents a deterrent for termites because they don’t consume rocks. Instead of using soil as the barrier between the mulch and your house, use pea gravel.

Form A Shallow Ditch Around the Mulch To Place Termite Granules

To add a layer of protection from termites, place termite granules in a shallow ditch one inch deep. Once in contact with water, the granules disintegrate and sink into the soil, killing the termites. Moreover, the granules will keep the termites from establishing their nest for the next nine months.

Use Termite-Resistant Mulch

There are species of wood that have a natural resistance to termites. Using these types of wood will eliminate the threat of the wood being a food source for termites. The species of wood that repel termites are:

  1. California Redwood
  2. Cypress Mulch (Cypress Heartwood)
  3. Cedar Mulch
  4. Melaleuca Mulch
  5. Treated Wood Mulch

Though not wood, rubber mulch is another option if you want mulch material that termites won’t consume. As for treated mulch, the chemicals used may harm the soil quality. If you want a safe alternative to chemically-treated mulch, look for mulch that uses natural treatments, such as eucalyptus oil, tree oil, and other natural ingredients that termites hate.

Treat Mulch for Termites

If you have existing mulch on hand, such as pine bark mulch, and detect subtle signs of termites in mulch, such as termite wings and dead termites, you may need to address the situation immediately by applying termite treatment. Though chemical pesticides treat termites effectively, these present the risk of stripping nutrients from the soil. The best alternatives for treating mulch are:

  1. Using Diatomaceous Earth: These powders are safe and highly harmful to termites. Scatter a fistful for every square meter of garden space.
  2. Introducing Nematodes: These microscopic types of roundworms are harmful to termites. However, they are completely safe and all-natural. Nematodes also have anti fungal properties and are detrimental to other harmful insects.
  3. Spraying Boric Acid: Apply boric acid by mixing a tablespoon of powder in one cup of hot water. Spray the mixture in several treatments spaced a day apart. 
  4. Using Natural Deterrents, such as citrus oil, vinegar, and eucalyptus oil. Apply a few drops of these substances in water and spray the mixture over the mulch.

Do Mulch Available In Stores Harbor Termites?

Termites will require colonies to survive. The manufacturing process, packaging, and storage of mulch present an inhospitable environment for termites. Though rare, a few termites may be able to survive such environments. However, their chances of establishing a termite colony in the mulch package are highly rate. To be safe, rake the mulch over the grass to expose it under direct sunlight to kill any termites that made it this far.

Takeaways: Termites Should Not Deter You From Using Mulch for Your Garden

A proper understanding of termites is key to preventing future infestations. Mulch may present an avenue for termites to inflict substantial damage to your home if you don’t understand how mulch can become a hive of termite activity. By following the helpful tips presented in this article, you can use mulch with peace of mind without worrying about termites being a problem. However, if you want to know what to do when you find termites on your property, you should seek termite experts immediately. Termite pest control services can help you control whatever species of termites threaten your property. If you are looking for dependable help for termite control, call us at (480) 359-9600 for a free inspection from our termite control experts. For other questions and concerns about eliminating termites from your property, especially if it concerns your landscaping, you may also fill out the contact form on our contact us page.


Arizona Termite & Pest Solutions

Valley Wide Pest Control
Phoenix, Arizona

1260 N. Arizona Ave Suite E Chandler, AZ 85225



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