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Mulch and Termites

Does Mulch Attract Termites?

Landscapers rely on mulch to beautify lawns and gardens, prevent weeds, and conserve water. Subterranean termites nest underground, feed on wood, and tunnel into lumber that rests on soil. Wooden items like trellises and fences can allow the insects into buildings, so it seems logical to connect mulch and termite problems.

Some people may even find termites in a bag of mulch. The moisture inside the packaging creates an ideal setting for the pests. Luckily, termites in bags rarely survive long enough to begin an infestation. However, some types of mulch produce a moist layer of soil that can attract and protect termites already in the ground.

Termite-Resistant Mulch

Infestations caused by mulch and termites are simple to avoid. You won’t have to give up using wood chips or bark in your flowerbeds, either. There are several kinds of termite-resistant mulch used for landscaping, such as:

  • Melaleuca Mulch – Considered termite-resistant, melaleuca mulch repels these pests. The insects don’t eat it, and they don’t like to live under it. Choosing melaleuca is also environmentally friendly. These trees are an invasive species that run rampant in Florida wetlands.
  • Cedar Mulch – Resin from cedar heartwood is toxic to termites. Cedar mulch can also deter cockroaches, odorous house ants, and other insects.
  • Cypress Mulch – Heartwood makes cypress a termite-resistant mulch. It also has anti-fungal properties and a slow rate of decay. Be sure your cypress mulch doesn’t contain sapwood. This ingredient can actually attract termites, as the pests enjoy sapwood as a meal.
  • Inorganic Mulch – The insects can’t eat pea gravel or shredded rubber. However, inorganic mulch provides cool, wet soil conditions that encourage moisture-loving termites to feed near homes.

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Termite Prevention Tips

Using landscape cloth beneath termite-resistant mulch adds an extra protective layer. Spread the mulch about two inches thick and six to eight inches away from buildings. This open space prevents the insects from crossing over and gives you a clear view of any termite mud tubes forming along the foundation.

Termite-resistant mulch loses its effectiveness over time. Be sure to replace your melaleuca, cedar, or cypress mulch every two to three years. For concerns about termites and mulch around your home or business, contact Waltham Pest Services to speak with an expert.

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