The Internet is a treasure trove of stories and warnings about what you may or may not be bringing into your home with your purchases. One of these that has grown popular is the idea that you can begin a termite infestation in your home by purchasing bags of mulch. This myth is untrue on its face, but if you aren’t careful, you can contribute to an infestation through the manner in which you use mulch.
Why the Myth is Wrong
First things first; while it might be possible for a few termites to show up in bagged mulch, they are unlikely to cause an infestation. The reasons for this include:
- Survival – Only low numbers of termites can actually survive the chipping process that is used to create mulch.
- Colony Separation – In order for a colony to grow, there has to be a male and female together to mate. Even if both of these survived the chipping process, a colony requires between two and four years to fully mature.
- Low Survival Rates – Termites, including males and females who mate, have a low rate of survival when they are separated from the colony.
Based on this, the likelihood of your bags of mulch creating a termite infestation is very slim, and nearly impossible. However, it is true that your mulch could help promote an infestation if you don’t take the necessary precautions needed to keep those hungry little creatures that are already present in your soil away from your home.
Mulch and Established Colonies
Termites love moist soil that has a moderate temperature. If you lay your mulch down in thicknesses greater than four to six inches, you are providing the perfect ground cover to keep termites healthy, happy and thriving. When you use the appropriate level of mulch, which is around two inches or less, you ensure that the soil can dry naturally. When soil is dry, it does not provide the ideal living space for termites.
Another issue that arises when mulch layers are too thick is that it negates any termiticides that you may have in place. Thick layers allow termites to crawl over the mulch, without coming in contact with, or being deterred by insecticides that are in your soil. You should make sure to avoid going over two inches thick to ensure effectiveness. Additionally, you should ensure that you are protecting your home with a pest control company that is both licensed and reputable. These protections should include treating the soil appropriately, using bait systems, and making sure that all wood is treated appropriately.
Eliminating Conducive Conditions
Mulch is useful for a number of reasons, but it has to be used in the best ways to ensure you aren’t creating conducive conditions around the foundation of your home. It is recommended that any mulch placed near the foundation is at least six inches away to allow room for inspection. This will allow owners and pest control specialists to be able to see if there are any termite mud tubes leading into the foundation of the structure.
It is also important to ensure that any irrigation systems are placed so that they are at least one foot away from the wall of the home or building. This will make sure that conditions are not created that propagate termite infestations, such as overly moist soil right next to your foundation.
While you won’t be introducing a termite infestation when you place mulch around your home, you do have to take care to ensure you are not creating conditions that can lead to one. Proper thickness of the layers, along with leaving plenty of space between the walls and mulch, and taking precautionary measures will protect your home. Call Dugas Pest Control today for a termite inspection to ensure your home remains termite free.