Does Mulch Really Attract Termites?

Termites like damp places and can find them fairly quickly.

Mulch keeps the area damp and makes it easy for plants and shrubs to grow faster.

When termites find mulch that is wet or damp, they usually build a lot of tunnels through the wet mulch to find out where the water is coming from.

The truth is that the termites might not eat the mulch. Instead, they might be looking for the source of water.

If you have termites on your land, they will quickly dig to the damp areas you just mulched.

Does Mulch Attract Termites?

Even though the material itself doesn’t bring termites to the area, spreading mulch more than three inches deep makes a nice place for them to live in.

Near the ground, layers of organic material retain heat and moisture. Termites hide in this thick mulch when the weather is bad.

What Mulch Does not Attract Termites?

It’s easy to avoid infestations caused by mulch and termites. You won’t even have to stop putting bark or wood chips in your flowerbeds.

There are a few types of mulch that keep termites away that are used in landscaping, such as:

  • Cedar mulch: Termites can’t eat the resin that comes from the heartwood of cedar. Cockroaches, house ants, and other insects can also be deterred by cedar mulch.
  • Melaleuca mulch or tea tree mulch: Melaleuca mulch is thought to be resistant to termites and keeps them away. It doesn’t taste good to insects, and they don’t like living under it. The mulch has some tea tree oil in it, which keeps the termites away.
  • Cypress mulch: This type of heartwood has a lot of resin in it that makes it hard for termites to eat. It also takes a long time for this mulch to break down. There is no sapwood in mulch.

What Kind of Mulch Attracts Termites?

If you want to keep termites out of your yard, you need to know what kinds of mulch to stay away from.

Here are some types of mulch that termites will get into as soon as they can;

  • Cypress Sapwood
  • Loblolly pine 
  • Slash pine
  • Loblolly pine 
  • white Birch

Does Mulch Cause Termites?

Termites can sometimes be found in piles of mulch. But mulch does not cause termites.

And mulch piles don’t tend to be good places for termites to live. Termites usually start out deep underground in damp places.

They dig holes in the ground to find things made of wood to eat.

Most of the time, mulch dries out enough that termites can’t use it to build a nest. Termites can only live in mulch piles if the pile is always kept very wet.

A more likely way for termites to get into your house is if you pile mulch up too high against your house so that it can be used as a bridge over the foundation.

How to Spot Termites in Mulch?

Termites may not be able to destroy your home as quickly as a fire or tornado, but if your structure isn’t protected, they can definitely hurt your equity over time.

These bugs do damage that is hard to find and hard to fix. So, if you don’t have ongoing protection against termites, it’s important to know the signs of an infestation.

Here are some signs that mulch has termites;

  • Built mounds in the mulch. Mounds show that there are a lot of termites and that their colony is not far below the surface of the soil. Termites will quickly build mounds in mulch that is always moist
  • Dry wood that has been hollowed out along the grain. Termites prefer dry wood to living plants because dry wood has more cellulose.
  • If you have mulch around your fences and trees, look for bark that has been eaten away to see if the wood has been treated for termites. Pests can sometimes find cracks and make holes in places where termiticides did not reach when the wood was treated.
  • Subterranean termites use tunnels to move between the ground and the surface. This is why there are holes in and around the mulch. There may be holes in and around the mulch that show where these tunnels are. They use these tunnels to move food and get away from predators and bad weather.
  • When Termites leave the cold or hot sun, they leave important signs that they were there. The termites’ shed wings are a clear sign that there are a lot of termites in your home. This is very bad news because it means that a new termite colony is starting.
What infested mulch looks like up-close

Using Mulch Without Contaminating your Home

Make sure mulch doesn’t touch the building, like the siding or door frames, to keep termites away.

Keep wood mulch at least 7 inches away from foundations if you can.

Between flowerbeds and outside walls, you might want to use gravel. This space makes it harder for termites to get in and lets you keep an eye out for their mud tubes.


If you see mud tubes that termites use to get from one place to another, damaged wood that has been hollowed out along the grain, a swarm of winged termites, or signs that they have swarmed in your house, like shed wings, you should call an exterminator.

Termites can be hard to get rid of, and the tools available to homeowners may not be enough.

Get at least three quotes for pest control work, and don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision.

Even though termites are bad, they won’t destroy your house overnight. Make sure the company you choose has insurance, the right licenses to use pesticides, and a guarantee that they will get rid of the termites.