For the last few years, rumors of termite-laden bags of mulch being sold throughout the United States have been circulating through email inboxes and causing homeowners a good deal of stress. The claim, in most cases, is that rotten trees knocked down during Hurricane Katrina are being mulched down, termites and all, and quickly packaged for national distribution. Although termites lurking in your mulch can present a real danger to your house, the odds of them arriving inside a bag are slim. These are the facts about termites living in mulch, as well as how you can defend your home from an external invasion.
Controlling the Commercial Spread of Termites
Landscaping companies and home improvement retailers both stake their reputations on their service and product quality. Infesting their customers' homes and gardens with termites would quickly turn into a PR nightmare, and so most of these businesses have careful quality assurance guidelines to ensure that their mulch only contains mulch. Furthermore, the mulching process should kill any termites mixed in with the wood, or at least scatter them to the point that survival and reproduction are nearly impossible. You are far more likely to pick up termite hitchhikers while buying other wooden landscaping supplies, like rail road ties, which keep colonies intact.
Understanding How Termites Settle in Mulch
If you have recently discovered termites tunneling through the mulch in your garden, you may be wondering how they got there in the first place. Typically, termites spread to mulch from another colony in or near your yard, such as from a rotting stump or firewood pile. Mulch is not especially rich in nutrients, meaning termites will establish colonies in other wood when possible. They prefer deep layers of mulch that shield them from the sun and encourage rot, and they will spread from the mulch to your home if given the opportunity.
Protecting Your Home From Termites
Check your mulch for termites regularly by turning it over with a rake or shovel every few months. Spread the mulch thinly to create a dry, hostile environment for termites, and never place mulch in direct contact with your home's walls, siding or foundation. A barrier of rocks or hedges can be an effective and attractive deterrent along the borders of your house. Finally, if you do see termites in your mulch or another part of your yard, call in the services of a termite control expert such as Fowler Pest Control to remove the problem and prevent the further spread of these tenacious pests. Termites traveling through bags of mulch may be an urban legend, but you must still be vigilant and proactive to keep your home safe.