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Gardening in Washington State

Do woody mulches attract termites, carpenter ants, and other pests?

Many wood-based mulches are not attractive to pest insects but are actually insect repellent. For instance, cedar (Thuja) species produce thujone, which repels clothes moths, cockroaches, termites, carpet beetles, Argentine ants, and odorous house ants. In general, termites prefer higher nutrient woody materials such as cardboard, rather than wood chips.

Courtesy Wikipedia

Termites – courtesy Wikipedia

For more information on wood chip mulches, see “Using Arborist Wood Chips As a Landscape Mulch” WSU Extension Fact Sheet FS160E.

Submitted by: Linda Chalker-Scott, August 10, 2015

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2 comments on “Do woody mulches attract termites, carpenter ants, and other pests?”

  1. Suzanne said on May 24, 2020:

    My neighbor is putting his wood chops and saw dust in our woods where we need fill. Will this cause a problem for us with termites and carpenter ants?

    • Chalker-Scott, Linda K said on May 24, 2020:

      Not at all. Neither insect you mention will eat these products. But sawdust is very impermable and should not be used by itself. Be sure it’s mixed into the chips first.

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