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.
Termite foraging during the summer can include tunneling in the soil close to the surface – especially in favorable locations, such as under bark mulch and stone and gravel ground covers. Soil temperatures and moisture under these materials can be favorable for termite foragers, which require moist conditions.
Termites might feed a little on the mulches we use around our homes but mulch has no nutritional value to them and they will quickly look for something else. However, mulch around homes (including bark mulch) can provide termites a bridge over termiticide-treated soil and access to structural wood. Research suggests that gravel mulch can also create a favorable environment during the summer. Under this material, termites can spend time feeding on roots and construction debris. While gravel provides some ideal conditions, it has been found to be more effective than bare soil in keeping termites away from homes.
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.