There have been stories that Formosan termites can spread through bags of mulch. These stories are not true. Scientists agree that Formosan termites have been carried from state to state in used lumber and old railroad ties, but not in mulch.
However, mulch can help termite colonies find the right conditions and temperature they need to survive in and around your home. When you spread mulch around your landscaping, it holds moisture not just for plants but also for insects like termites. Most mulch is made from wood, which contains cellulose for termites to consume.
In addition to providing termites with water and food, mulch can serve as shelter – protecting termites from temperature changes and light. Lastly, mulch can serve as a bridge into your home. Even if the perimeter of your home has been treated with termiticide, you should be wary of using mulch too close to your home since termites can use mulch to cross the soil without coming into contact with the termiticide.
Which Kinds of Mulch Attract Termites?
To the extent that it can provide moisture, food, shelter and optimal temperature, any mulch can prove welcoming to termites. Even gravel can help provide moisture, shelter and temperature control; although, it does not provide food. In order to prevent subterranean termites, use mulch that is less appealing (i.e., does not contain cellulose) and keep it at least six inches away from the foundation of your home.
What Mulch Alternatives Are Available?
A few mulch alternatives include sand, pea gravel, decorative stone and rubber mulch. If you use wood mulch, opt for pine bark and make sure to keep it at least six inches away from the foundation.
How to Get Rid of Termites in Mulch
You do not need to worry about termites inhabiting mulch that you purchase. However, if you discover termites in mulch around your home, contact a pest control professional for a termite inspection and consultation to discuss prevention and treatment.