Termites are much more than nuisance pests. In fact, they are considered some of the most destructive and therefore dangerous pests in the United States.
The best way to protect your home and property from termite damage is to take a proactive approach and to use proper products, home remedies, and tools.
If you’ve noticed termites in your garden mulch, it’s time to act fast. An outside infestation of termites could quickly make its way indoors, costing you thousands of dollars in damages, repairs, and pest control products.
Join us today as we talk about how to get rid of termites in mulch and learn about the best tips, tricks, and products you can use to protect your property and home in the future.
But First, What Are Termites?
Termites are not related to ants, though they do look an awful lot like them.
Termites are eusocial insects in the order of Blattodea. Though they look an awful lot like ants, termites are not related to ants and instead belong to an order of their own.
There are about 45 different species of termites throughout the United States, with all of them falling under three categories including subterranean termites, dry wood termites, and damp wood termites.
When it comes to termites in mulch, you’ll likely be dealing with subterranean termites. These pests live below ground and consume the cellulose from wood and paper to survive. They also require moisture and other factors to ensure they are living in an ideal environment.
If you have encountered termites in mulch, you likely are encountering worker termites and swarmer termites.
Worker termites are the termites tasked with collecting food for their colony. They also work to build those telltale mud tubes that are a common sign of termite infestations as well as nests inside the colony for their young.
Swarmer termites are adult termites that have developed wings. They are called swarmers because they emerge from their nest in swarms to mate. Upon mating, swarmer termites lose their wings and often leave the colony in search of building their own colony.
How Big Is A Termite Colony?
Although termites in mulch may not seem like a big deal at first, the truth is that these insects could easily and quickly find their way inside your home, where they can cause costly and even dangerous structural damage.
Termite colonies are massive, and once they become overcrowded some termites will look to make other colonies elsewhere. If mulch is close to or touching the siding of your home, vulnerabilities to your foundation could become the perfect entrypoint for the next colony.
Colonies of termites can reach numbers between 60,000 to one million, and colonies can last for decades if left untreated.
Why Do I Have Termites In Mulch?
Though mulch is wood, it is not necessarily what attracts termites.
Termites feed on the cellulose in wood and paper, often causing severe and irreparable damage to homes, trees, and wood structures.
With that being said, mulch itself does not attract termites. Although mulch is made of wood, it is generally the application of mulch that is attractive to these pests.
Subterranean termites require moisture and a safe shelter to build their nests, and mulch that is applied to gardens or perimeters up to three inches deep provides the perfect environment for these pests.
Mulch can also attract a number of other pests like earwigs, spiders, pillbugs, slugs, and even ants. Many people prefer using mulch in their garden because it helps reduce water loss in soil. Mulch can also help plants to thrive and may even suppress the growth of certain weeds.
The good news is that using mulch does not necessarily mean you will automatically wind up with termites. In fact, there are correct ways to apply mulch to help keep termites in mulch from becoming a common occurrence.
But before we talk about the best methods to prevent termites in mulch, let’s first talk about how to get rid of termites in mulch.
How To Get Rid Of Termites In Mulch
Termites like mulch because it provides them with an ideal living space.
Before you begin treating your mulch for termites, it’s important to ensure you do indeed have termites in mulch.
First, inspect your mulch for these pests by digging up a small portion of the mulch. Look for signs of swarmer termites or worker termites.
Swarmer termites are black, long, and winged while worker termites are pale, ant-like insects with six legs and two antennae.
If you do see these pests, you can rest assured there are many more just out of sight. Termite tunnels can reach up to 20 feet below the surface, though this is not always the case. Luckily, you can use common termite killers and poisons to not only kill workers and swarmers near the surface but to eventually kill the entire colony below.
The best way to use products for how to get rid of termites in mulch is to invest in a product you trust.
Apply the termite killer to the mulch and then rake the mulch so the poison is mixed. We also suggest setting termite baits and traps.
Termite baits will ensure that the queen and young of the colony are eventually destroyed while traps will help you to monitor the termites in mulch as you go.
The process of getting rid of termites in mulch can be time-consuming, so while you are working to get rid of these pests in your yard or garden, it’s also a good idea to protect your home to keep termites from getting inside.
Best Products For How To Get Rid Of Termites In Mulch
The most common termites you will come across will be swarmers and worker termites, pictured above.
There are several methods and products you can use to get rid of termites in mulch. These products include both organic and natural remedies as well as chemical methods and poisoned baits.
The best products that will work for you when it comes to getting rid of termites in mulch will depend on your unique situation, though we have listed some of our favorite products for you to consider below.
Spectracide Terminate Termite Killing Stakes
Spectracide Terminate Termite Detection Stakes not only help to monitor and detect termites but also kill them in your mulch. The product has a two-fold purpose – it includes a pop-up indicator that detects termites in mulch, alerting you if any are nearby.
The stakes then work to kill foraging termites using the active ingredient Hexaflumuron, which is an insecticide that is specifically designed to target and kill termites.
However, while this product does work effectively for killing and managing termites in mulch, it has been found to be highly toxic to aquatic life. Use this product only as directed and keep it out of reach of children and pets.
Harris Termite Powder
HARRIS Termite Powder is another product you can use for how to get rid of termites in mulch. It is also effective against carpenter ants, wood-destroying beetles, and a variety of other pests. HARRIS Termite Powder can also help control mold and wood rot.
To use this product for termites in mulch, you should mix it as directed with water in a spray bottle or applicator. Apply the spray directly to the mulch and then mix the mulch to ensure the powder penetrates the surface.
One application can cover up to 200 square feet and will not only work as a termite killer for termites in mulch but also as a preventative.
Advance Termite Bait Stations
One of the most highly recommended methods for getting rid of termites in mulch is the use of termite bait stations. This is because bait stations can help not only kill worker termites and swarmer termites you see on the surface, but also the queen termite living below the service.
This means that bait stations can help kill the entire colony, which is ideal if you have a large termite infestation in your mulch that could potentially make its way into your home.
The above bait stations by BASF require a spider tool that is not included to open the stations so the bait can be accessed. The stations do include a wood base and inspection cartridge, however.
This product also contains a chemical pesticide so it’s important to use these bait stations only as directed and to keep them out of reach of children and pets.
Trelona Compressed Termite Bait Box
Another bait station we recommend for getting rid of termites in mulch is the Trelona Compressed Termite Bait Box above. This bait box includes six cartridges and uses the active ingredient Novaluron to kill subterranean termites and the entire colony.
The product is highly effective, though it is not for sale in every state. Do your research to ensure you can use this product in your region and use it only as instructed to ensure it is effective and safe.
Diatomaceous Earth Crawling Insect Killer
Also known as DE, Diatomaceous Earth is a natural compound made from fossilized algae. It is perfectly safe for people, pets, and the environment but is deadly to hard-bodied pests like termites.
To use Diatomaceous Earth for how to get rid of termites in mulch, simply apply the powder around the mulch and mix it in.
The product works by penetrating the termite’s exoskeleton, which then dehydrates and kills it. Diatomaceous Earth also works against other pests like beetles, pillbugs, earwigs, and other hard-bodied insects that could be attracted to mulch.
Although Diatomaceous Earth is an effective product that kills pests on contact, it works best when dry. If it does get wet, we suggest reapplying it.
Beneficial Nematodes are perhaps our favorite product for how to get rid of termites in mulch because it is effective, natural, and safe. Beneficial nematodes are microscopic worms that feed on over 230 different types of pests including termites, gnats, fleas, grubs, and more.
Best of all, beneficial nematodes are safe for the environment and will not harm beneficial insects like bees or ladybugs.
You can order these beneficial nematodes for termites in mulch in six different orders of between five million to over 100 million nematodes depending on your infestation.
The nematodes are easy to apply and can be applied with a pump sprayer, hose, watering can, or specific applicator you can order online. Each order treats up to 200 square feet.
Best Products For How To Protect Your Home From Termites In Mulch
Termites can cause severe damage to wood including structural damage to homes and even furniture.
Once you have managed to get rid of termites in mulch, it’s important to take steps to keep these pests from coming back. It’s also important to protect your home from termites now that you know they could be around your property.
Along with applying mulch correctly to your yard and garden, you can also forgo using mulch altogether.
If you do prefer to use mulch, we suggest investing in some of the below products to help keep termites from becoming attracted to the mulch in your yard.
We have listed some of the best mulch you can use to repel termites, along with products you can use to protect your home from these pests in the future.
100% Natural Cedar Mulch
Cedar is a natural repellent to a number of pests, so it’s no surprise we would recommend it as an alternative to traditional mulch for how to get rid of termites in mulch. Cedar mulch not only repels termites, but it also repels pests like rodents, spiders, beetles, earwigs, and more.
To use cedar mulch for pest control, it’s best to completely remove any other mulch from around your home or property. Dispose of it properly to ensure any existing pests cannot get back to your yard.
Then apply the cedar mulch around your home for the same benefits a traditional mulch. Apply the mulch in a thin layer above the soil to help reduce the growth of weeds and to encourage healthy soil and garden plants.
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer
Ortho Home Defense Insect Killer is commonly used inside and outside of homes as a barrier, preventative, and on-contact killer for pests like termites, fleas, ticks, spiders, roaches, ants, and more.
The product comes in different varieties including a concentrated formula, or it can come in a gallon spray that is ready to apply.
You can use this product to get into small cracks and crevices that could attract termites and other pests. The product is specifically designed as a repellent to keep termites and other pests outside for up to 12 months when applied as directed.
Cedarcide Lawn and Garden Treatment Kit
Similar to cedar mulch, the above Cedarcide Lawn and Garden Treatment Kit can help not only get rid of termites in mulch but also repel future termites from coming around.
The kit includes cedarwood granules as well as a spray made with cedar oil. This product is safe for your garden as well as safe for the environment, people and pets.
It works to repel pests like spiders, roaches, rodents, termites, pillbugs, earwigs, and more. Each order can protect up to 5,000 square feet when applied correctly and there is no wait time required upon application. Each order provides your yard with one month of protection against a variety of listed pests.
Ultrasonic Pest Repellent
If you have discovered termites in mulch outside of your home, it’s a good idea to take precautions and protect the inside of your home while you’re working on treatment.
A natural way to repel pests like termites from getting into your house is the use of ultrasonic sound repellers like the one listed above.
This product works by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and vibrations that are harmless to people and pets but highly irritating to pests like termites, rodents, roaches, spiders, mosquitoes, flies, crickets, and even bed bugs.
The above ultrasonic sound repellents can protect up to 1,800 square feet and are safe for use in bedrooms, basements, attics, offices, and more. To use these products, simply plug them in.
Home Remedies For How To Get Rid Of Termites In Mulch
You can help get rid of termites in mulch by applying the mulch appropriately.
Getting rid of mulch doesn’t always mean you must purchase products or use chemicals. In fact, there are several home remedies and do-it-yourself pest control ingredients you can use to keep these pests from becoming a problem.
Borax powder is a natural product that is commonly used around the home for cleaning purposes. It is also commonly used for doing laundry. Though borax can be an irritant to humans and pets, it is generally considered harmless.
This product is, however, is harmful to termites and can be used as an effective home remedy to get rid of subterranean termites in mulch. Borax powder, also known as sodium borate, works by killing termites after they ingest it.
To use borax, simply sprinkle it around the mulch and mix the mulch so the borax gets below the surface. When applied correctly, the borax powder can also serve as a repellent in mulch for other pests.
While borax can be an effective and natural home remedy to manage termites in mulch, it will not work completely to eliminate the entire colony. We recommend using other methods for termite control along with borax, especially if you have a large infestation.
Vinegar And Lemons
Vinegar works well when it comes to getting rid of termites in mulch. To use this method, combine half a cup of vinegar with the juice of two lemons (or 8 tablespoons of lemon juice). Add the mixture to a spray bottle and spray it around the mulch and near any termite mounds or entry points you notice. Repeat this method as often as you need to repel termites and encourage existing termites to leave.
Make Your Own Cardboard Termite Traps
Soak several pieces of cardboard with water and then place them in layers over the mulch. The cellulose in the cardboard will attract the termites below the surface of the mulch to the cardboard. You can collect the cardboard and dispose of it to kill termites as you go.
However, keep in mind that this cardboard trap for termites in mulch will only collect some of the termites and not kill the entire colony.
Still, you can use this trap to monitor the termites in mulch as you use other methods, home remedies, or products to get rid of them.
One of the most effective ways to get rid of termites in mulch is to remove the mulch completely and expose the termites below to sunlight. This will often work to quickly eliminate the termites and cause them to move on as it exposes them to the elements and predators.
Once the termites are eliminated, you can replace the mulch with a wood alternative or you can reapply mulch while also using a repellent or pest control product to keep termites from returning in the future.
Last, you can try using essential oils to remove termites in mulch. Essential oils can work as a natural pesticide and pest repellent, though not all essential oils will work to remove termites in mulch.
Some of the best essential oils you can use for how to get rid of termites in mulch include:
- Cinnamon Oil
- Orange Oil
- Clove Oil
- Garlic Oil
- Cedarwood Oil
- Tea Tree Oil
- Peppermint Oil
- And Eucalyptus Oil
To make your own essential oil spray to apply to the mulch, simply combine 10 to 20 drops of the essential oil of your choice above with two cups of water. Spray the mulch around your home with this product and repeat it every three days to help eliminate termites.
Remember, while essential oils can help get rid of termites in mulch in an early infestation, it will likely not work to eliminate an entire colony.
How To Manage And Prevent Termites In Mulch
Birds and other predators can help control termites in mulch.
The best way to manage termites in mulch is to use proactive measures to help prevent termites from getting out of control. There are several methods you can use to keep these pests at bay, but we have listed some of our expert recommendations below.
Use Insect Repellent Mulch
The best mulch you can use to repel termites and other insects includes cedar mulch, melaleuca mulch, cypress heartwood mulch, redwood mulch, and licorice mulch. Not only will these types of mulch repel termites and a variety of other pests like rodents, spiders, earwigs, slugs, and pillbugs, but these types of mulch also tend to last longer than other types of mulches you may use for your garden.
Use Alternatives To Mulch
Although the presence of mulch doesn’t necessarily attract pests, it can make an ideal habitat for them. This is especially true when it comes to termites. If you are looking at ways to get rid of termites in mulch, you might consider forgoing the use of mulch altogether.
Instead, consider using products that provide the same benefits as mulch without the pest-attractant properties.
Some of the best alternatives to mulch include:
- Rocks or Gravel
- Pine Needs
- Rubber Mulch
- And Grass Clippings
Keep Mulch Away From The Siding Of Your Home
If you do want to use mulch in your yard or garden, keep it at least six inches from the siding of your home. You can also create a barrier against the mulch and your home using pebbles or rocks, which will not provide the same ideal habitat to termites and other pests that mulch will.
Remove Excess Wood Debris On Your Property
Mulch doesn’t attract termites, but other wood debris does. The best way to keep termites at bay is to remove attractants like woodpiles, hollow trees, stumps, and other wood debris from around your home.
You might also consider using a sealant that protects your home and wood to keep it strong. Weakened wood beams and siding can become more attractive to termites, as it is easier for them to chew through.
Get Rid Of Excess Water Sources
Excess moisture can also be an attractant to termites, so removing excess water sources from around your home can keep termites at bay. Excess water sources could include leaky pipes or drainage. Homes or areas around the property that don’t have proper airflow could create moist environments that could also be attractive to termites, so keep this in mind.
Keep Up With Home Maintenance
Termites in mulch do not have to automatically mean termites in your home. In fact, you can proactively protect your home by ensuring you repair cracks, crevices, and other potential entry points that could give termites easy access.
Use A Year-Round Pest Control Product Or Regiment To Keep Termites Under Control
Termites can be costly and even dangerous pests, and termites in mulch can easily lead to termites inside your home. The best way to keep termites under control is to use a year-round pest control product or regiment in order to prevent them.
So, what do you think about getting rid of termites in mulch? Would you prefer to continue to use mulch in your yard and garden now that you know it’s not necessarily the mulch that attracts these insects?
Share your thoughts with us about termites in mulch in the comment section below. Best of luck and thanks for reading!
Jack founded our blog after two decades of working in the pest control industry. His vast experience dealing with a wide array of pests allows him to diagnose issues quickly and get to the heart of pest problems quickly and effectively. He has serviced more than 2,000 homes over his career and there is hardly any pest situation that he has not seen before.