Pest Problems with Landscaping Mulch

As the weather warms up, many homes in Chantilly are preparing for summer with some landscaping upgrades. One popular upgrade is mulch. Wood chips and other forms of mulch offer many benefits for plants by insulating roots, preserving moisture, and providing nutrients. Mulch and gravel also look great and offer a good setting for entertaining and play.

But organic mulch – wood chips, straw, compost, and grass clippings – is as attractive for bugs as it is for plants, leading to concerns about bringing home a bug infestation in new mulch or attracting bugs with mulch. As long as you know how to prevent the risks, you can easily keep your home and yard safe.

Keeping Pests Out of Mulch

One of the most frequent concerns about pests and mulch is that new mulch can contain termites, and by adding mulch to your home, you could potentially introduce a termite infestation. Fortunately, this is more a myth. Mulch can contain termites, but they are unlikely to survive being transplanted to your home and still maintain the numbers to grow a colony. Even if there are termites in the new mulch, you are unlikely to bring them home.

Only on rare instances will other bugs hitch a ride in mulch to your home and survive the trip. Buying mulch from a reputable store – and avoiding collecting mulch naturally – will generally be enough to prevent you from bringing bugs home. If you have cause for concern, you can let the bags of mulch or the delivery sit in the sun for a few days before installing it. The heat will hopefully kill any remaining bugs.

Mulch more often becomes a problem after installation when it can attract termites, carpenter ants, cockroaches, spiders, earwigs, and centipedes. This is because the mulch helps keep the soil below cool and moist – conditions that bugs thrive in. Depending on where you install mulch in your yard, this could invite bugs close to your home. The best way to avoid this is by:

  • Leaving a Gap Around the Foundation – There should be a space of at least 6 inches between mulch and your foundation to prevent bugs from living right up against your home. Also, never place mulch directly against any wooden structure.
  • Limit Depth – You will want to keep each layer of mulch less than 3 inches deep. Mulch deeper than this will trap excess water and become more prone to bugs, as well as other unwanted things like fungi.
  • Keep Mulch Clean – Extra debris in mulch like leaves and other yard clippings can provide even more places for bugs to hide. Raking your mulch or avoiding installing mulch under messy trees can help keep things neat.
  • Use Inorganic Mulch – Although inorganic mulch like stone will still trap moisture, it can be less attractive to bugs. Installing plastic or a liner beneath the mulch will also help limit contact with soil.

Since many homes do not want to sacrifice the attractiveness of mulch but also do not want to deal with bugs, ongoing exterior pest control in Chantilly from ExtermPRO can add another layer of protection. We use pest treatments around your foundation and other high risk areas of your home to help keep bugs out, whether or not you have mulch in your landscaping. Contact us today to learn more.