Will Pine Bark Mulch Attract Termites?

Filed Under: Landscaping, Insects · Keywords: Pine Bark, Wood, Mulch, Attract, Cause, Termites · 2159 Views
I am creating 2 beds of plants around a new addition for our brick house. Previous owner used little rocks as mulch in other bedding areas. I am confused about mulchingI took a landscaping course last year and the instructor said to avoid rocks as mulch because they heat up the ground. I used landscaping cloth first and then pine bark mulch...BUT am now wondering if that was an error. Friends have recently told me that causes termites. I supposed that the pinebark mulch was treated so termites wouldnt like it. Does pinebark cause termites?


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Answer #1 · Gardenality.com's Answer · Hi Robby - Though they can be found migrating through it, it is a myth that pine bark will attract termites. If termites ate pine bark then soon after we installed it in our landscape all the pine bark would be gone. Not sure where you live but where I live in Georgia studies show that there are 8-12 colonies of subterranean termites per acre, regardless of whether or not there is any wood mulch on the property. These insects feed on pulp wood (inner wood) and not the bark of the tree. If you see termites around your home they are most likely going after the wood (or other products made from wood) in or around your home, or lumber or trees that were buried around your home or on your property. This means it is absolutely necessary to keep homes protected from these insects, and why mortgage companies require inspections on homes in areas where termites are a problem.

I prefer bark mulches over stone because the bark decomposes into rich organic matter that feeds the soil and your plants. I've been using wood mulches in countless landscapes for decades and have had absolutely no problems with termites. So, no need to worry...another urban myth dispelled!

Hope this was helpful and let us know if you need more details or have any other questions.

Brent)


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Robby Champion

Robby Champion · Gardenality Seed · Zone 6A · -10° to -5° F
Thanks for the helpful response. I'd give that an A and an A+ for promptness. Glad to have my instructor's opinion confirmed: the bark mulch is ok near my brick home. Carpe diem!

5 years ago ·
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Answer #2 · Maple Tree's Answer · Hi Robby-I was just about to answer your question but noticed Brent beat me to it. As I just finished my answer making my stomach wait a few minutes for lunch I thought I would post it also along with Brents answer.

Landscape cloth used to keep weeds down works well in some situations but I'm not one that has ever liked using it throughtout my gardens. Over a period of time I have found the cloth to fill up with dust, dirt, and other debri not allowing good penetration of water, oxygen, and nutrients to my trees and shrubs. A layer of bark along with the cloth may suffocate some plants. The bark or mulch also decomposes on top of the cloth creating a humus-rich soil enough for weeds to grow in. After awhile you will most likely have to remove all the decomposed mulch and start over. Normally a two inch layer of bark will be enough to keep most weeds from gerninating and help to insulate the soil from drying out or freezing.

As Brent said, there is no evidence that termites use wood based mulches as a food source. Pine bark and other mulches doesn't provide much nutrition for termites, and without other nearby food sources they could not sustain a colony. Seeing this question regarding termites in mulch several times I did a little reseach to find out if there was any new evidence that wood mulches may be a problem. There are some subterranean termites that may use the moist conditions of mulch to protect themselves from extremes in temperature for a period of time but again the mulch will not sustain them without a larger source of food. It was found that pine bark only allowed the termites to survive between 10 and 14 weeks before dying off completely. Not only pine bark but these termites will just as easily for a period of time use beds that are mulched with other wood products, crushed stone, and pea gravel also that provide the moisture for a period of time.

I have friends that live in locations that have large infestations of termites and they have never found their using wood based mulches to ever attract or add to the termite populations. I'm sure if the wood based mulches were attracting termites and other insects most nurseries and companies providing these mulches would be inundated with complaints about any infestations.

Hopefully this has helped answer your question.

John)


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Gardenality.com

Gardenality.com · Gardenality Genius · Zone 8A · 10° to 15° F
You're right, John. I've owned and operated a nursery and garden center since 1989 and we have yet to get one single report that termites are eating pine bark. As I said in my answer, if pinebark were an attractive food source for termites then they'd eat all the bark and gardeners would have stopped using it long ago.

5 years ago ·
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Robby Champion

Robby Champion · Gardenality Seed · Zone 6A · -10° to -5° F
John, Thanks for your response. I need to re-think the landscaping cloth. I was excited that it said "permeable" on the package so thought it would an ideal addition to the bark mulch. Will at least keep it back from the new plants so they can breathe. I dont know the rating system (Is 3 highest or is 1 highest?) but this was very helpful info and confirms what my landscaping instructor told me about not overworrying about the pine bark mulch by my brick home. Thank you for the quick response, too, because I am working in the garden NOW. Carpe diem! RobbyC

5 years ago ·
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Robby Champion

Robby Champion · Gardenality Seed · Zone 6A · -10° to -5° F
Good point, Brent. If there were huge problems with the pine bark mulch it would be off the market by now. Thanks. Robby C.

5 years ago ·
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Maple Tree

Maple Tree · Gardenality Genius · Zone 10A · 30° to 35° F
You're very welcome. I too am using the day to enjoy my gardens. Our temperatures have been hot during a very long several years of drought. I awoke to a day of rain which was extremely surprising. A cool 90 degree cloudy day will make a nice day in the garden. As far as the rating system I'm assuming you are speaking of giving a thumbs up for questions and answers.
Anyone can ask as many questions as you have and then experts from around the world will post their answers. Every Gardenality member, whether they asked the question or not, can rate the answers as well as the question. Better rated answers will appear towards the top of a question and better rated questions will appear at the top of the various categories of questions.
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5 years ago ·
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