Carpenter ants, carpenter bees, wood-boring beetles and termites – these are some of the most prevalent wood-destroying insects found in the US. They are collectively responsible for billions of dollars in property damage every year. Of these wood-destroying insects, termites are known to be the most problematic and economically devastating.
Some kinds of termites even eat through wood 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Depending on how long these insects have been left to eat through wood, you may have a significant repair bill on your hands.
But how do termites get into your home? If it’s spring time, all signs usually point to that new springtime mulch that adorns your yard.
Does Mulch Attract Termites?
Yes, mulch can attract termites to your home. While mulch may look nice around your house, it also provides a perfect home for these termites. This means a significant increase for a chance of termite damage to your home.
It isn’t necessarily the mulch that is the problem though. Think about the type of environment that this mulch is able to provide underneath. This cool, moist protection is very attractive to termites who look for a comfortable place to rest when the sun gets warm.
This is why you may find termites not only under the mulch that you lay down in the spring, but also around gravel, wood, rubber mulch, and fresh wood chips. The environment under those materials makes an attractive home to the insects and they move right in. Since mulch is often put down close to your home, it is also possible that you will start seeing wood-destroying insect damage to your house shortly after the termites move in.
Under mulch, termites have a lot of room to move about undisturbed. The environment is cool and wet, which the termites are fond of. And since the mulch is often placed close to the home, the termites will not need to go far to find a good food source to enjoy.
Old mulch is particularly dangerous to have around your home. Old much is more likely to attract termites to the area. While any type of mulch can provide the environment that termites need, old mulch is already established and will break down faster, making even more favorable conditions for termites looking for a new home. This old mulch has a higher chance of attracting termites and other wood destroying insects. Cleaning up old mulch, especially before laying down new mulch, will keep your area clean and can help to protect your home from termite damage and the need for a termite inspection.
Why Are Termites Attracted to Mulch?
The main reason termites are attracted to mulch is moisture. While this can be a good thing if you want to grow grass, trees, and flowers in the area too, it can also attract termites.
Moisture is attractive to many types of bugs and insects. They like to be in the darkness and the moisture ensures their skin does not dry out.
The moist environment is also good motivation for termites to dig the thin tunnels, often called mud tubes, they need to explore the area and look for food. And, of course, the main source of food for the termite is wood.
It doesn’t take long for wood-destroying termites to find the wood in your home. Before long, if left unchecked, these wood-destroying insects will begin to eat away at your home and damage your property.
Does Certain Mulch Attract Termites More Than Others?
Most mulches are going to provide the same kind of protection and coverage to the termites, making a good home for these little insects. Nonetheless, there are some types of mulch that can be toxic to the termites, and even repel them. If you insist on adding mulch to your landscape to make it look better, then you need to pick the right kinds.
Termites do have a preference of the type of mulch that they like to burrow in. Lacking one of these, they can make due with other options. However, if you choose to lay one of the following types of mulch down in your yard, get ready for the termites to move in pretty quickly:
- Slash Pine: There are several studies that show how slash pine is a favorite for many subterranean termites.
White birch: White birch is a good food source for termites. They may move in, eat up some of the mulch, and then start moving closer to your home to cause damage there.
- Loblolly Pine: It is not uncommon for Easter Subterranean termites to like this kind of mulch. If it is in your yard, get ready for an invasion.
These are mulch options that you should avoid at all costs around your home.
Some types of mulch that help to repel termites include:
- Cedar mulch,
- California Redwood
Can Termites Be Found in Mew Mulch?
Although termites are more commonly found in old mulch, sometimes termites can already be present in your new mulch. This can be very scary because you are essentially inviting new termites to your home! Fortunately, if you find yourself in this situation, more often than not, the queen is not present in new mulch. Termites need the queen to survive. So they will often die off.
Ultimately, make it a habit to inspect your mulch thoroughly before placing it on your property.
Should I Get a Termite Inspection for My Home or Property?
If you have a significant amount of mulch around your home, especially older mulch or mulch of the kinds mentioned above to avoid, we advise you inspect your property regularly for termite damage. Look for mud tubes in the ground, damaged wood, hollowed wood, or piles of wings near windows or light sources. Internally, check for buckling bubbling paint or brittle drywall.
Although a DIY inspection can certainly give you some insight on a possible termite problem, it’s always best to hire both a licensed pest inspector to conduct a proper termite or wood-destroying insect inspection and an ASHI certified home inspector to inspect your home or property for damage. Our Pennsylvania home inspections include a thorough examination of your home to determine if there is any visual wood destroying insect activity or damage in the inspected property.
Making a very small investment in a proper wood-destroying insect inspection today by a certified home inspector can identify potential damage to your property and save you tens of thousands of dollars of long-term termite damage to your home.