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Does Mulch Attract Termites: How To Avoid Mites In Mulch

So you are here because you start seeing mites in your garden and wonder if mulch attracts termites or not. To clarify the question, we are going to discuss some important information about mulch today. Mulch is good for your garden, but what will you do if it attracts mites to start camping near your plants? This is why you have to know beyond the answer to your questions, and you are at the right place. Below is everything you need to know about mulch, let’s check them out with me.

1. What Is Mulch?

Mulch is a useful material that comes in different forms that you can spread around or over plants. It is an amazing addition to the backyard, garden, and lawn thanks to the nutrients that it generates when it decomposes. The good thing about mulch is that it helps to fight off weeds and retains the moisture level in the soil. This is because it creates a protective layer that reserves water to provide everything that your plants need. Mulch helps to protect the soil from erosion, regulate the temperature, and retain moisture even after winter. This is why mulch can also protect the roots of the plants during the cold season to prevent stress. Just make sure that the type of mulch that you choose does not attract pests, and things will be fine.

2. Does Mulch Attract Termites & Why?

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Mulch alone does not attract termites, but things are different if they are already present in the perimeter of your home. It will allow the mites to multiply and reproduce then expand their colony on the property. This is because mulch can create a favorable environment for those bugs and pests to reproduce. So you probably see some bugs roaming in your garden, thinking it was the mulch that attracts them. With that being said, you will see not only termites but also other pests around the mulch in some cases. However, you won’t have to worry about termites coming to nest near your mulch if there aren’t any around. Mulch actually helps to control bugs if you apply it properly, so always read the instructions before using it.

Another thing is that it also depends on the types of mulch that you use in your garden or lawn. Some types offer shelter to bugs, insects, and even pests to come but they don’t pose any danger. Some of these little critters actually help the mulch to decompose to release nutrients into the soil. This case is common with organic mulch, but it does not apply to inorganic mulch because it contains no nutrients. More than that, you have to know which bugs to keep and which bugs to remove. Pests like ants, earwigs, mice, millipedes, and termites will feed on your plants and damage the landscape. The ones that you can keep are centipedes, sowbugs, spiders, and other bugs that don’t feed on plants.

3. How To Keep Termites From Mulch

Before we talk about how to keep mites from mulch, you have to know what attracts them first. There are a few things that termites love about mulch including:

  • The moisture of organic mulch builds from rain or regular watering because it is very beneficial for them.
  • A large amount of mulch provides shelter for the termites to live before they expand their colony.
  • The source of food that they can access if the mulch that you use contains wood. Wood mulch like cypress, loblolly pine, slash pine, and white birch can attract more termites to your garden or lawn.

So in order to deal with termites in mulch, you will have to do the opposite of what I mentioned above. Along with that, there are a few other things that you can do to get rid of termites from mulch.

  • Always check the contents of organic mulch to make sure that there is no wood that attracts termites.
  • Use inorganic mulch because it does not provide any food source to the mites at all.
  • Avoid using pebbles, plastic, rocks, or rubber mulch because they still can offer shelter to the termites. At the same time, it can also high things underneath the soil that still allows the mites to work.
  • Remove solid wood and other wood products from the surrounding areas. Termites will make to find solid wood to feed on because they cannot survive on wood mulch alone. Without proper food, mites are unlikely to survive.

4. 10 Mulch Types That Don’t Attract Mites & Other Pests

The good thing is that there are several mulch types out there that don’t attract mites that you can use. In case you want to switch your current mulch to a better one, I have some to recommend. You will find some of the good-quality mulch that doesn’t attract mites below. Let’s see which one you think is the best option to have for your garden.

4.1. Cedar

Cedar mulch offers many great benefits to the plants and the soil, and it is also easy to find. This type of mulch can control weed while naturally repelling insects like ants, cockroaches, crickets, slugs, and termites. It could be good or the other way round because cedar mulch can protect earthworms in your soil. If you don’t mind earthworms, then cedar mulch is one of the good choices to choose.

4.2. Cocoa Shells

This is an organic mulch that contains nitrogen, phosphate, and potash with a pH of 5.8. It provides a lot of benefits to the soil by creating soil vitality while making a nice top cover. Cocoa shell mulch is an attractive cover for both flower beds and vegetable patches. Not to mention that it also smells nice, this mulch is one of a kind to have. When you use it, make sure that the mulch does not get overly wet because it can attract pests. Another thing to have in mind is that it is dangerous to dogs upon ingestion with symptoms similar to chocolate poisoning. It can lead to diarrhea and vomiting, so avoid this mulch if you have dogs.

4.3. Cypress Hardwood

Here we have a termite-resistant mulch that also contains anti-fungal properties with a slow decay rate. It is a very useful mulch to have in the garden or lawn, and it keeps many pests away. The one thing to keep in mind is to check for sapwood in the ingredients. Make sure that your cypress hardwood mulch does not contain sapwood because it attracts pests. Apart from that, you are good to go.

4.4. Eucalyptus

As you probably know, eucalyptus makes an amazing natural insect repellent at home. Things are the same as mulch because it can also repel insects and other pests from your garden or lawn. At the same time, you can also use this organic mulch to separate grass areas and plantings for contrast as well. Not to mention that it can help to prevent water loss and reduce soil loss, this mulch type is simply great.

4.5. Melaleuca

This is another termite-resistant mulch that works effectively to repel mites and other pests. The great thing about this mulch is that it provides neither food source nor shelter to the insects. Since melaleuca is an invasive tree in Florida wetlands, using it is very environment-friendly. It breaks down slowly, and it is also easy to find in some areas. In case one of these is available in your regions, don’t hesitate to get it.

4.6. Organic Bean Chaff

Bean chaff or coffee bean chaff is another great mulch and compost that your plants will love. You can get an ordinary mulch and add some coffee ground to it, and that’s it. This mulch is brown, and it can absorb moisture and dry the pile out which is good for the soil. That way, you won’t have to worry that there is any excess moisture that can attract bugs and pests at all.

4.7. Plastic Mulch

The main purposes of plastic mulch are to conserve moisture, prevent nutrient leaching, and warm the soil. Another benefit that it delivers is the fact that it helps to control weeds in the soil. If you have problems with weeds, then plastic mulch could be the next option to choose. The special part is that it does not attract bugs or pests at all since it does not contain nutrients. Because it is affordable and reusable, it is also common in commercial use like with berry or vegetables. There are also many other benefits of using plastic mulch.

4.8. Rubber Mulch

This type of mulch is more common for landscaping because it is healthy for plants. Thanks to its ability to allow nutrients and water to reach the plant’s roots that make this mulch is great to use. The best part is that it does not attract pests that harm your plants which is a total bonus. Plus with the fact that it helps prevent weeds, you won’t need to use any chemical substances at all. According to Courant, rubber mulch requires little maintenance and it lasts for up to 10 years or longer. So if you want to invest in mulch for long-term use, you might want to consider rubber mulch.

4.9. Silver Aluminum Foil

Aluminum foil mulch is very beneficial to the soil thanks to the reflective material that it comes with. It reflects the light up on the leaves or plants, making it ideal for the gardens in partially shady conditions. Silver aluminum foil is the most common, but other colors like orange, red, and yellow are also available. The most important part is that it can help to manage pests and possible virus transmission from the garden or lawn. Below is a quick video that shows you how to use silver aluminum foil as mulch, so check it out.

4.10. Straw Mulch

Here is one of the best mulch materials that you can use around your plants and vegetables. Straw mulch is clean and light, and it breaks down easily which gives the plants what they need to grow. You can easily use straw as mulch by mixing with it hay because it can weed seeds from sprouting. In case you purchase one, you should look for weed-free straw for the best results possible. The recommendation that you can give a try is to choose rice straw or wheat straw. Either of these is good for the plants and soil, and it does not attract mites and other pests at all.

5. Organic Mulch vs Inorganic Mulch

Besides the types of mulch that don’t attract mites above, we also have 2 main mulch types. Many people also asked me about inorganic and organic mulch because they can’t decide between these two. The benefits that each type provides and their differences are very clear, and the choice is all yours to make.

Inorganic Mulch:

The unique thing about inorganic mulch is that it comes in a wide variety of materials that you can find. It could be fabric, lava rocks, plastic, pebbles, rubber, or rocks, and they are also good to use. The ones made from fabric, plastic, and rubber come from recycled materials which means they are also affordable. What you should know about this type is that it does not contain any nutrients at all. However, you can use it several times because it does not decompose which is ideal for long-term use. Another good thing about it is that it is unlikely to attract above-ground pests. In contrast, this type of mulch can create soil conditions that are favorable to below-ground pests instead.

Organic Mulch

Organic mulch is full of nutrients that can help nourish the soil in spring after the cold season. The awesome thing about this type is that it helps the flowers, trees, vegetables, and many plants to grow healthily. One of the drawbacks is that it can attract bugs because it represents food and shelter. This is why you have to choose the right type of mulch if you don’t want pests to come around. We already discussed this certain point above, so simply pick one from the list that I put up for you.

5.3. Which One To Choose?

Choose Inorganic Mulch IF:
  • You prefer mulch that is long-lasting and reusable because inorganic mulch does not decompose.
  • There is no time for you to spend on getting rid of bugs or regularly check for bugs. Inorganic mulch doesn’t attract bugs or pests at all so it will save a lot of your time.
  • You don’t want to deal with the eggs of the bugs or insects in the garden or lawn. This is because the larva won’t have access to food even they hatch since inorganic mulch has no food materials.
Choose Organic Mulch IF:
  • You want to save effort and time because it provides everything nutritious for your plants.
  • The soil in your garden and lawn needs additional enrichment on top of the fertilizer that you feed it.
  • You prefer to recycle materials in your garden or lawn since creating mulch is not so complicated.

6. Common Mulch Pests

Once you can identify the good bugs and bad bugs, it is time to recognize common mulch pests. You will find 5 pests that do more harm than good your the garden and lawn. Those are the ones that you should get rid of, and I also include some tips to eliminate them.

6.1. Ants

Carpenter ants, to be specific, can be attracted to wood mulch sometimes because they are good at detecting those. This type of ant loves wood, and wood mulch can attract them to your garden or lawn. The way to prevent this is by applying your mulch in a manner that is less attractive to them. You can do so by making your mulch as shallow as possible because it can discourage them from building nests. Another way to avoid using organic mulch is if there are carpenter ants in your areas. Since they are good at detecting the smell of wood, they may find their way to your property.

6.2. Cockroaches

This is my worst enemy, and I don’t want these creatures crawling anywhere on my property both inside and out. Not everyone knows that mulch can attract cockroaches, but these critters are attracted to decomposing materials that are present in mulch. You know how invading they can be, and they may enter the house if the mulch is close to your home. Mulch attracts roaches because they can build nests in mulch, causing extremely unpleasant infestations that could be impossible to stop. Along with that, the moisture, wood chips, and wood shavings in some mulch types can also attract them. Avoid using mulch with bark shavings and pine straw mulch if you don’t want roaches to visit your garden or home.

6.3. Mice

When does mulch attract mice to the garden or lawn? It happens when you add too much mulch with the purpose of keeping the plants warm in cold weather. You have to know that plants don’t need that, and doing so is offering a free stay for mice instead. Plus with the presence of plants or shrubs that they can feed on, mice won’t go anywhere. The right way to add mulch is to keep the soil surface at a more consistent temperature during winter. This helps to prevent heating and thawing, but too much mulch can be favorable for mice instead. When the layer of mulch is thick enough for them to hide from predators, they will reside there. So you should not over-add your mulch if you don’t want to create a cozy place for mice.

6.4. Mosquitos

Believe it or not, there are mosquito species that could live in mulch, especially the wet ones. This is because wet mulch provides them with enough moisture that is favorable for them to lay their eggs. If you live in Scottdale in Pennsylvania, then you have to avoid using wet mulch. Maybe those mosquitos are not causing any serious danger, but it is so much better to live without them.

6.5. Spiders

Again with the moisture because it does not only attract mosquitos but also spiders. Wet mulch can attract spiders for two main reasons: food sources and nesting areas. Because moisture can attract a number of bugs and insects, spiders will live where food sources are abundant. And since the condition is also good for them to build their nests, no doubt why they move in. One of the mulch types that attract spiders is wood dust mulch. It attracts insects that spiders eat, and it also attracts these arachnids to come feasting those free meals. Pine bark mulch and wood mulch attract spiders, and you will need to use some effective methods to repel them. SFGATE shares some natural ways to keep spiders out of the yard that you can try, so check them out.

Final Words

Mulch is very beneficial to your plants and soil, and having them can ease you from a lot of work. All you need to do is picking the right type of mulch that is easy to use without attracting pests. That way, your plants will be able to flourish in the garden without having bothersome bugs or insects around. I sure hope that my tips above are helpful, and feel free to ask if you have any concerns or questions.

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