Wood Chips & Termites

Overview

Termites feast on wood and they won't discriminate between a dead branch, an untreated wood deck, your home or wood chips. According to the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, even chips made from insect-repelling wood, such as cedar, will in time attract termites, as the insect-repelling oils in the wood eventually leach away. Although woodchips are popular for mulch, you should be careful where you use these if you want to prevent termites in your home.

Wood Chip Uses

Wood chips are used for mulch around trees and shrubbery. Additionally, as the chips weigh down and destroy weeds and grass, use wood chips to provide paths throughout your garden. Cedar, pine and hardwood blends are the most common types of wood chips used for these purposes.

Termite Identification

Termites are small, pale-gold cream-colored or black insects that resemble ants. Some members of a termite colony have wings and can fly. The most common type of termite is the subterranean termite, according to the Ohio State University Extension. These live below the soil in large colonies with an extensive tunnel system.

Effects

Wood chips attract and provide a readily available source of food for termites. If the wood chips are close to a home or another wooden structure, the termite colony will eventually begin feeding on the home or structure. Termite infestation weakens wood. If the termites are not eliminated, they will eventually destroy the structure.

Prevention/Solution

Do not use wood chips as mulch around plants near your home. According to University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension, it's not known how far away from a house is a safe distance to use wood chips. If you do choose to use wood chips for mulch, however, do so only on plants in the periphery of your yard. Professional exterminators are usually required to get rid of termites once a home is infested.

Additional Information

Wood of any kind, not just wood chips, should be kept away from your home's foundation or you may attract termites. In addition, the University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension suggests preventing moisture from collecting or pooling around the foundation, termites require moisture to survive, and removing all dead and decaying trees from the yard.

Keywords: wood chips termites, wood mulch termites, termites and wood

About this Author

Corey M. Mackenzie is a professional freelance writer with knowledge and experience in many areas. Corey received a B.A. with honors from Wichita State University and has been a writer for over two decades. Corey specializes in pets, interior decorating, health care, gardening, fashion, relationships, home improvement and forensic science. Corey's articles have appeared in Garden Guides, Travels and other websites online.