Not just wood
Mulch of all kinds can create a perfect
environment for termite activity because it helps maintain soil
moisture and moderates soil temperatures. Since moisture is the main
attractant, the type of wood mulch used makes no difference. The
amount of mulch is a more important factor.
Stone mulches can also contribute to termite problems since
they help keep the soil evenly moist
A two-inch layer of mulch is sufficient to obtain its benefits for
plants – maintaining soil moisture, moderating soil temperatures,
and keeping weeds down. Wood-based mulches have the added benefit of
adding organic matter to the soil as they break down. Mulch becomes
a problem when we use too much of it, because the underlying soil
never gets a chance to dry out, which increases its attractiveness
to termites looking for a place to call home. People who add a few
inches of fresh mulch every year so that it looks nice can easily
wind up with excessively thick layers of mulch around their plants
and near their houses. In addition to creating a perfect environment
for termites, excessive mulch around plants is not good for them,
either. A better approach is to rake out the existing mulch and only
add fresh mulch in places where there is less than two inches.
Properly used wood mulch is so beneficial to plants that fear of
termites should not preclude its use in the landscape.
To minimize problems with mulch and termites, never allow any kind
of mulch to physically contact a structure. Keep plants three - four
feet away from the foundation to increase air circulation so that
the soil has the opportunity to dry. It is also important to make
sure that the soil around the foundation is sloped away from the
structure so that water drains away from the foundation rather than
toward it. Make sure that gutters and downspouts are working
properly so that runoff is directed away from the foundation. Adjust
sprinklers and irrigation systems so that irrigation water does not
puddle near the foundation.
Termite or Winged Ant?
- Wings: 4
wings are all the same length and almost twice
as long as the body.
- Wings: 4
wings vary in length and are about the same
length as the body.
Avoid piling lumber or firewood next to a structure, which could
provide an easy route for termites into the building. It is also
important that any wooden parts of a structure are at least six
inches above the soil. Even treated wood can be damaged by termites
because they can exploit tiny cracks and crevices to get into the
center of the piece, where the treatment may not penetrate.
Old piles of firewood close to your house may attract destructive carpenter ants and termites
If you see signs of termite activity, including the mud tubes
termites build to get from place to place, damaged wood that has
been hollowed out along the grain, or if you see a swarm of winged
termites or evidence they have swarmed in your house such as shed
wings, contact an exterminator. Termites can be tough to manage, and
materials available to homeowners may not provide sufficient
control. Get at least three estimates for pest control work, and do
not be bullied into choosing a company quickly. Although they are
damaging, termites will not bring your house down overnight. Make
sure the company you choose has insurance, proper pesticide
licensing, and that they guarantee their termite treatments.