Ahh, the signs of spring! Melting snow and thoughts of getting our homes and backyards ready for summer outdoor life. Yard cleanup and mulching are rituals every spring, but do you know what is in your mulch? Mulch protects your soil by retaining moisture, regulating temperature, and minimizing soil erosion. Unfortunately, it also creates an inviting environment for bugs and pests.
What are the types of mulch?
Most landscapers and home improvement stores sell and deliver mulch by the bag or by the yard. There are two types of mulch: Organic and inorganic. Good Housekeeping explains:
- Organic mulches include formerly living material such as chopped leaves, straw, grass clippings, compost, wood chips, shredded bark, sawdust, pine needles and even paper.
- Inorganic mulches include black plastic and geotextiles (landscape fabrics).
Both types of mulch discourage weeds, but organic mulches also improve the soil as they decompose. Inorganic mulches don’t break down and enrich the soil, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not a smart option for your garden. Case in point: Black plastic, a popular kind of inorganic mulch, warms the soil and radiates heat during the night, keeping heat-loving vegetables like eggplant and cherry tomatoes cozy and vigorous.
Mulch piled up against woody stems of shrubs and trees can also cause rot and encourages rodents (such as voles and mice) to nest there.
What type of bugs are found in mulch?
Ok, bugs are in your garden, right? Bugs can be beneficial to gardens and, of course, bees for pollination. However, homeowners need to be aware of the insects that can hitchhike into your yard and possibly your home in the mulch you spread throughout the garden. Insects love the coolness in the summer and the warmth in the fall days that mulch provides.
Termites. According to the spruce, Mulch should be used relatively sparingly to prevent termites which may see the mulch as harborage or food. If you have existing or have had a previous termite issues, this is especially critical. Although termites aren’t really “attracted” to an area, if there are any around the property, they can easily tunnel to the mulch – then beneath and into the wood of your home – to build out their colonies. Because both organic and non-organic mulches cause moisture retention, which the termites also seek, both can be an issue – and should never be laid as to contact any wood of the home or other structure.
Earwigs. Earwigs “have forceps-like cerci (pincers) that can be used to capture prey or to defend themselves against predators. Earwig adults are 1/4″ to 1″ (6 to 25 mm) long. Their bodies are flattened and are pale- to dark brown. The antennae are threadlike and about half the length of the body. They are active at night and often crawl into homes under doorsills. They are attracted to light and are beneficial, eating insects and other pests.” (University of Florida/IFAS Extension)
Millipedes and Isopods, aka roly-poly bugs.
Millipedes “are often called “thousand-leggers” because they have many legs (two pairs per body segment). They have many cylindrical body segments and one pair of short antennae with seven segments. Millipedes feed on decaying organic matter and are found in decaying vegetation and mulched areas.” (University of Florida/IFAS Extension)
Roly-Poly bugs, or sowbugs, love the moisture mulch provides. They can damage plants and will look to enter your home in search of a moist but not wet environment.
Spiders. Spiders are drawn to moisture and dampness and are often found in dark areas of a basement or attic. Spiders indeed provide natural pest control in small numbers to eliminate disease-carrying insects such as cockroaches, fleas, and ticks.
Outdoors and spiders are incredibly advantageous in controlling insects and pests that harm crops, landscaping, and other plants and trees.
Does mulch attract bugs?
No, it does not. A Nest with a Yard explains that the mulch itself won’t attract bugs, pests, or rodents but will provide shelter if they’re already present in your garden or backyard.
Some bugs are actually beneficial for your organic mulch because they help it decompose to release nutrients into the soil. However, termites, for example, can represent a serious threat to any wood structure nearby.
- If you know you have pests, hire a professional service to get rid of them.
- Buy your mulch from a trustworthy source.
- Keep an eye on the telltale signs of termites to act accordingly.
How do I keep mulch bugs out of my house?
Pests love moisture, so if they are in your home, do you have a moist, humid, or damp basement or area that could be troublesome? You could also have mold due to extended damp floors and walls.
- Then let’s look outside. Look for standing water or darker areas that remain damp without sufficient sunlight to dry leaves and landscape beds. Never place firewood inside or near your home or garage.
- Close up entry points. Seal around your doors, screens, and windows, especially if they are at ground level. These tiny bugs can make their way through the smallest of areas.
- Good news?They do not live a long time indoors as they need that wet, damp, and darker environment to survive. Look closely in your basement, and you may see some dried-up and curled-up dead sowbugs and millipedes.
Termites and subterranean termites present a host of problems. The damage to a structure can be significant and often thousands of dollars. Treatment for termites requires more than a spray and the placing of baits. Knowledge and understanding of termites, their habitat, and their life cycle are critical to treating and ultimately removing termites from the structure.
Can you treat my home for the pests and bugs found in mulch?
We certainly can, but more importantly, we want to work together to stop the entry into your home and remove all harboring areas outside and around your home. We spray to provide barrier protection and lay down monitor boards to catch them and monitor the activity and success of the treatments.
While sowbugs, centipedes, and millipedes are harmless, they are still in your living space and do not belong there. Contact us to schedule an inspection, and we can discuss the best course of action to protect you and your family from pests and nuisance wildlife.
Ask about our annual agreements and protect your home or business with scheduled regular treatments!