A couple of weeks ago, in these weekly e-mail missives, I gave you a link to the entire chapter in my book regarding mulches. At the risk of being slightly repetitive, here is a small snippet of that chapter again. I'm repeating that small section as a reminder, that there are some very unscrupulous pest control companies out there saying that "mulch attracts termites." So, here's a refresher course on what I wrote on this subject in by book under the heading DE-MYSTIFYING MULCHING MYTHS:
You can always bet that when someone tells a consumer that mulches attract termites, they are usually selling something on the other end of that statement. It could be another mulch alternative they're peddling or even a termite control. It's simply not true that mulches attract termites. Yes, termites love cellulose material but they aren't "attracted" to shredded mulches in the first place, and termites are pretty much already there. (THEY'RE EVERYWHERE: Again, that's a chapter in another book for another time.) Bottom Line: Don't let anyone convince you that shredded wood mulches are going to attract termites. The termite would much prefer the white woods that lumber usually comes from; not decomposing shards of what used to be wood, now mixed with composts, or already decomposing on its own.Some warnings to be sure:
1. Don't pile any mulch up next to the foundation, especially near weep holes. Termites could use the mulch as a conduit.
2. An expert in pest control years ago noted that if a pest control company makes such claims, they are usually desperate for business.
3. Research this information for yourself. You'll notice that University studies all say pretty much the same thing, whereas pest control company websites will try to scare you into their service regarding mulch attracting termites.
4. Make sure the mulch is "shredded" and mixed with composts. If it looks like chunks of wood, yes, it could attract termites. But the mulches I recommend would never be construed as "chunks" of wood.
5. While rubber mulches obviously won't "attract" termites, they cause many more problems to the soils and root systems of plants. It's a huge sales tactic for rubber mulch manufacturers. If you don't believe me, read this: http://www.natureswayresources.com/resource/infosheets/rubber.html.
As an example of some of the research I've been able to find regarding termites and mulch, here are a few sites you can check out:
Lastly, Auburn University in Alabama is in the middle of a 10-year study on termites, with a huge focus on what attracts them and what does not. I promise to keep you apprised of the research as they make the studies more available to the public and the media.
Until next issue, here's to Great Gardening from the GardenLine, heard exclusively, 6-10 a.m. Saturdays and 7-10 a.m. Sundays, only on NewsRadio 740 KTRH.
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