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Article posted on August 15, 2020

Does mulch attract Termites?

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There are growing concerns for homeowners and gardeners in Australia in relation to termites being in mulch. There is a lot of debate between gardeners and landscape suppliers in playing the blame game when termites are found.

The big question is – Were they in the mulch from the store? Or did I attract termites when the mulch was delivered into my gardens?

Let’s take a look at what you need to know about the potential dangers of mulch and the threat of termites.

inspecting mulch termites imageThe Truth About Termites and Mulch in Australia

Australia is one of the world’s hot spots for termites; in fact termites do about $1B dollars worth of damage to homes each year. Most new home estates have hundreds of ground up logs and stumps buried and compacted under ground. This causes problems as termites are attracted to the soft, wet mulchy substances as a means of food. This is usually left over green waste from land clearing.

This in fact is a type of natural mulch that is available for Termites to eat 24/7. The problem is that it is untreated decaying timber that becomes easier for termites to consume as it naturally breaks down. Termite’s forage in the soil usually in the top 30 cm of ground. In search of food or decaying timber.

Termites in Mulch from Landscape Supply Stores

If you’re buying mulch from a landscape supply store chances are they will have different types of mulch. It is important to pick and dig through the mulch you bring home. Keep an eye out for termites in the mulch you have just bought. If you have purchased a Termite resistant mulch chances are that there will be a 0% chance of finding termites.

If your mulch contains termites and you have already unloaded it from a trailer it’s recommended you rake out the mulch across the grass. Termites when exposed to sun and grass will get eaten up by ants relatively quickly. If you do find the Termites in the mulch whilst still in the bag or still in the trailer it is recommended you take it back and purchase treated or Termite resistant mulch.

Fact: IF you have 100 Termites in a shovel load of mulch and lay it in your garden the Termites will not survive. Termites are part of a thriving colony that cannot survive unless they have access to the underground tunnels back and forth from the Termite colony.
The Termites if not eaten up by ants will eventually die off usually within 12-24 hrs.

Termites have a slim chance of surviving the mulching process that is done before mulch is bagged. Once Termites are separated from their colony their life is limited. So the truth is that chance of Termites attacking your home from mulch purchased from a store are slim.

Why Do Termites Like Mulch?

Here’s where the problem starts: You have just got a trailer full of mulch and have spread it around your home and garden. There is definite evidence that mulch areas do attract termites. Why? Mulched areas keep the environment moist and damp. Termites love dampness and can source out damp environments quickly, Mulch keeps the area damp and creates great conditions for shrubs and plants to grow quicker.

When Termites find dampness or mulch they will usually build hundreds of tunnels through the damp mulch looking for where the moisture is coming from. So the truth here is the termites may not be feeding on the mulch in fact they maybe in search for the moisture source. If termites are in the ground on your land they will quickly tunnel underground to the damp areas just mulched.

Termites may the access your home through small cracks or gaps in your brickwork under the mulched areas. It’s extremely important to only lay mulch 75mm under the weep holes. Many termite attacks occur when mulch is laid over weep holes, this usually ends in a highway of termites entering your home through a weep hole.

Call us if you need help with termites

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What Type of Mulch is Termite Resistant?

When buying mulch it is much safer to buy one that’s Termite resistant. Common mulch types in Australia that are considered Termite resistant are-

  • Cypress Heartwood: This is the most resistant to Termites. This type or heartwood has a large amount of resin contained in the timber that is detrimental to Termites. This mulch also takes a long time to break down.
  • Cedar Mulch: This mulch also has Termite repellants. The resins found in these heartwoods can be toxic to termites.
  • Tea Tree Mulch: This mulch is from the melaleuca plant; it has an amount of tea tree oil in the mulch that repels the Termites.
  • Treated Mulch: This type of mulch can be avoidable by Termites, but usually the timber is treated before ground down into mulch leaving some areas or corners of the mulch freshly cut and enable Termites to access to eat.

Caution for Home Owners

It’s important to think carefully before you use mulch around the wall edge of your home. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of creating the ultimate termite environment around your home.

  • Keep mulch 6 inches away from brickwork or wall edge of the home. This can be achieved by using a plastic garden divider.
  • Keep mulch 75mm below weep holes
  • Remember termite resistant mulch will break down over time
  • Replacing mulch every 2 years will prevent breakdown of mulch
  • Using underlay between the soil and mulch will reduce moisture levels in ground.

Termite Treatment & Control

It is extremely important to also be up to date with what termite control system your property has. Depending on your age of home it will either have a chemical soil barrier that usually requires replenishing every 8 years. Or if it’s a recently constructed home it may have a physical termite barrier, This is usually a plastic blanket system that deters termites from entering your home.

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If you have any concerns that your gardens or home may be at risk of termites, or perhaps you’ve seen termites in your yard, then be sure to give us a call. Our expert pest controllers can come out and assess your situation, and provide the most effective solution to ensure that your home is protected.

Remember, there are no call out fees, we provide free quotes and all of our work is fully guaranteed.

 

4 responses to “Does mulch attract Termites?

  1. Thank you for the best article.
    The underlay that you mention, under the mulch or stones, will that be a weed mat?

  2. I’m having a silky oak cut down. I can take the mulch after the tree has been chipped. I would use it in areas at least 2m from my pole home. Would it attract termites?

    1. Hi Barbara, thanks for the message.
      I would keep this mulch as far away from the home as possible. As that mulch breaks down it will become a smorgasbord for termites, and you don’t want to attract termite activity within a close proximity to the home. I would recommend you keep up to date with yearly termite inspections and ensure the termite management system around your home is up to date and current. An easy way to check what your home has as a termite management system is check your power box/meter box to see if there is a certificate of termite treatment. If there is no sticker stating what the home has there is a good chance the home has no termite protection. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions ok.
      Regards
      Danny.

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