With the protection that mulch provides for your soil, it does fall prey to some of its problems. Termites in mulch are a nuisance, and they must be dealt with.
Yes, it is a fact that there will be termites in mulch, and the mulch is, more or less, to be blamed here, as the mulches themselves attract the termites in them. But how? The mulch is placed on the soil to protect it; how does it protect the soil? By keeping it moist and letting the oxygen and moisture slide through it to reach the roots and core of the soil, is what attracts the most termites in mulch.
Why are there termites in mulch? How do they affect it? How to prevent these termites? Let’s find out.
Why are there Termites in Mulch?
The mulch is among the best places for these termites to live and survive in. We all know the primary job of the mulch is to slow down the evaporation, conserve the water, give benefits to the soil and add nutrients to it when the mulch decays and becomes unfunctional.
Now read the upper paragraph carefully and think, aren’t these the primary and most essential things for a living being to survive? The oxygen, water, and moderate warmth. That is what attracts the majority of termites in mulch. Moreover, these termites also eat the wood chips from the inside, slowly, slowly.
These are among the many reasons that you may find termites in mulch. However, you could take some steps to ensure that they don’t dwell among the mulch for long. There are two choices, either you always keep a check on your mulch for any termite activity, or you could use mulch that does not welcome these termites in it.
Will Termites Degrade Mulch?
There is a reason why experts advise placing mulch some inches away from your trees, plants, homes, buildings, and whatsoever. A study shows that keeping the mulch in close contact with your homes means that it will have negative effects on it.
The situation worsens when there are termites in mulch because the termites love to eat the wood chips as mulch, and you can guess that termites being in the mulch degrades it in some ways. These termites increase the process of decaying by feeding on the mulch.
You know that when the mulch decay, it gets mixed with the soil to provide essential nutrients, but those minerals have already been eaten by the termites; thus, there is nothing left. That affects the mulch and degrades it.
What Type of Mulch Does not Attract Termites?
There are many types that do not welcome these termites with open hands; in fact, stop them. You should know one thing, which is that the only reason termites turn towards mulches and live in them is to eat up their nutrients and minerals to survive and prosper.
That can only happen if you use natural mulch in your garden. Most termites preventing mulches are synthetic and artificial, like rubber mulch or rocks and pebbles. The Heartwoods are quite non-appealing to these termites. How? These heartwoods become poisonous and harmful for these termites as they lack the cellulose that termites eat in the woods.
So, whichever of the mulches contain heartwood, those mulches will not attract termites. Those mulches are Melaleuca Mulch, Cedar, Cypress, and other synthetic mulches. Almost all of these mulches have heartwoods.
How to Prevent Termites in Mulch?
Here comes the prevention part. Now that you know the reasons for these termites in mulches, we can go on to talk about stoping them. Let’s see.
1. Spraying with Insecticide:
The most logical and easiest way to deal with such pests is to use some killing chemicals on them. You can try using insecticides on these insects to prevent their growth. However, these chemicals do not only kill the pests, but it severely affects the decaying of the mulch by destroying its primary minerals, and you know the drill about what will happen next.
2. Change the Mulch (expensive):
It may be off-budget advice, but still, it is an effective one. Because changing the whole mulch is far better than spraying deadly chemicals on it. Moreover, it will prevent termite growth, and if you choose the correct mulch, the chance of termites coming back in mulch is improbable. So, if you can afford it, you should change the mulch when you feel the termites are getting out of control.
3. Use Rubber Mulch or Alternatives:
For doing this, you must have good knowledge about mulch and mulching, as using synthetic mulches will not only stop the termites from coming towards them but also will execute the job correctly. If you use these alternatives from the beginning, you won’t face many problems.
But using rubber mulch or any other synthetic mulch will not benefit the soil when it decays. So, the choice is yours!
Are Termites Bad for Plants?
Yes and no. Yeah, you read that correctly. Yes, the termites are bad for your plants and they should be removed before they cause several problems like affecting the plant growth. These termites negatively affect the plant roots and you must take out the suspected plants and take a look at their roots and see for any holes in them caused by termites. If that is the case, you should take safety measures to tackle this problem.
No, it is believed that the termites do not directly harm the plants, as they don’t feed on the plants, rather they eat decomposing woods. However, leaving them in the plant’s soil for too long is not a good idea.
Should You Remove Mulch with Termites?
Yes, you should. If you find termites in mulch, it is essential to remove them, as the termites in mulch are, somewhat, its enemy because it eats the very minerals that the soil requires for its well being.
Furthermore, you should keep checking on your mulch from time to time to make sure it is okay. And whenever you suspect the presence of termites, consider removing them ASAP.
How Long will Mulch Last with Termites?
If termites in mulch are in limited quantity then the mulch can live with them for one or two weeks. More than that will result in negative outcomes. It depends on the quality of the mulch. But be it any quality, you must not leave termites in mulch for more than one month at the maximum.
The mulch can survive with these termites for less than one month, after that it will start to fall prey to their basic needs and will be left with no nutrients to benefit the soil in any way.
This is a considerable issue and you must act on it. First of all, have the right knowledge of the mulch before using it. Buy the right mulch and place it with care, meaning some inches away from the plants. This will make it difficult for termites to get out of their safe zone and cause damage to your plants.
If still the termites have found their way inside your mulch, take the essential safety measures to ensure the mulch’s protecting capability remains intact. If cared for properly, you would only have to change the mulch in 3 to 4 years, and that’s a lot, no?