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Termites and Mulch

    37 responses

BJ starts with ...
Will termites nest in mulch beds?
I moved my pots (plastic) when I mowed 4 days ago to next to my neighbor's fence line. Their yard is completely covered in mulch. I moved the pots back to their usual spot this morning and found a nasty little termite nest underneath. As it was only about 2 foot from the fence I think it is likely they came through from the mulch next door and wanted to check if anyone has had encounters of termites infesting their mulch beds?

I have a large cement and bessa block wall between my garden and house, so hopefully there wont be much of a problem there, but it's still concerning, and I'll definately think twice before turning my mostly lawn yard into a mulched grove if it will encourage termites to nest on what appears to be quite a large scale...
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Theposterformerlyknownas
Brisbane
7th April 2010 8:23am
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BJ says...
I would recommend termidor.

Given the time frame you are referring to Id presume that what you found under your pot was not a nest (which includes their queen) but some termite tunnels. Termites can travel a fair distance from their nest and mulch will allow them to stay cool and dark during the day if they want to travel. My personal experience with termites has not been positive as they travelled over 50 metres from their nest (which was on the opposite side of a bitumen road) and they climbed up a double brick house to eat out a few roof beams. The whole evolution only took them a few weeks.

Termites are not silly; they can smell most poisons and they walk around them. They cannot smell termidor and so they get the chemical on them and walk it back to their nest. The chemical stops them building their next exoskeleton so the next time they shed they turn into a little puddle and die. Because they walk it back to the nest queen is also killed no more baby termites. (Im not normally into dispatching little critters with chemicals but termites are an exception!)

It is not organic, but unless youre confident the nest is over 100 metres from your house I would recommend protecting yourself. Give your local pest dude a call. The best thing is, once hes treated the place you can turn the garden into a mulched grove and throw away the mower. As with any chemical application I would recommend doing your own research but termidor is not supposed to leach through the soil or harm other micro-organisms or plants.

The MSDS can be found: http://www.ecopestcontrol.com.au/pdfs/Termidor.pdf
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BJ11
WA
7th April 2010 9:42am
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amanda says...
Hi Brisbane BJ - I have termites in my woodchipped garden beds and also in my railway sleepers - so yes to your question.

I (and my pest controller) keep an eye on them though. We have yearly inspections (but our house is steel framed also - for the termite concerns) and maintain a woodchip free zone adjacent to the house. Unfortunately this area also has to be drenched every 2 yrs or so. I don't grow any food plants in this zone.

There are different types of termites and some are not so invasive (according to my pest controller) so he checks them out. He reckons the hardwood sleepers are good "sacrificial anodes" in that they they will keep them busy for years!? Hope he is right!

WA BJ is right in saying they love moisture and darkness - so soggy garden beds against the wall of your house is one of the worst offenders.

Interesting info about the termidore BJ. Does an organic remedy even exist for termites I wonder? (apart from physical barriers?)
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
7th April 2010 2:03pm
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Julie says...
amanda, there are organic remedies, but not easily available. I have a friend who runs a business (Systems Pest Management) who uses as many organic methods as possible.

There is a little stick made of boron which can be inserted into wooden garden bed surrounds, but maybe only available from a pest controller?

Check him out if you want to know more.
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Julie
Roleystone WA
7th April 2010 5:30pm
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Original Post was last edited: 7th April 2010 5:31pm
amanda says...
Thanks Julie!
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
7th April 2010 8:34pm
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Brendan says...
Hi Julie & Amanda,
I've probably posted this before, but the 'guru' up here has this organic remedy.

Mix 1 cup raw sugar, 1 cup breadcrumbs & 2 tbsps boron. Place on ground and cover with an ice-cream container, maybe place a stone on top.
This will kill/remove termites and ants.
If rain washes it away, just do again.

May need more than one of these.
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Brendan
Mackay, Q
8th April 2010 8:44am
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amanda says...
Thanks Brendan - is that much boron around the place bad for the garden? Has anyone had a problem? (high levels of boron toxic to most plants?)
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amanda19
Geraldton. WA
8th April 2010 11:04am
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TimberSafe says...
Hi Folks,
Pushing our company product- TimberSafe is new to the market and is boron based-meaning no nasty chemicals.
More info can be found at ultralast.com.au. It is brilliant for treating sleepers, fence pailings and the like.
Hope this helps- Ian
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TimberSafe
Melbourne
27th September 2010 11:51am
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jon says...
Does anyone use the wood chip mulch from the local tree loppers around there fruit trees. I would prefer to use some pea straw or something simular but that is pretty expensive. The woodchips I can get free at the moment. As for termites I seem to have them everywhere not nests as such but just tunnels in the ground. I am just worried that by putting the woodchips around the trees it would draw them to my fruit trees more. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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John
 
13th April 2013 8:34pm
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Anonymous says...
We like bark chip mulch and I've used the freebie stuff in the past and plan to again. We've got paving and termimesh as a barrier.

Our area is riddled with termites and a neighbour's house was apparently condemned as the termites got into the roof timbers. An oldish house with an owner who went to a home and was then tenanted, so possibly not looked after properly.

We assume they're in the garden but don't want them in the house!

MJ
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4
 
13th April 2013 9:09pm
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amanda says...
In the words of our very good pest controller - if your home is protected properly, and inspected regularly, then it really doesn't matter what u do in the garden..
And - I actually agree these days...

eg: we chainsawed down two young-ish Jarrah trees in the back yard this weekend...
They looked healthy and fine - but they were actually hollow thru the heart wood due to living termites...u wouldn't have known from the outside...

We also have termites 1m from an outside wall...they are not the invasive type tho...so they are ok...

We have the bait statin system around the house (one every 3m)
The previous owner had the close-perimeter spray system and the house sustained a significant invasion and they ended up in the roof beams...! (so much for the moisture requirement! and the beams are big solid jarrah beams...)

Not all termites are the bad/invasive one's...they are vital recyclers in many of our ecosystems...

Interstingly the spray is just Bifenthrin anyway...?
(but who wants chlor-hexadane again anyway...?)
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amanda19
 
13th April 2013 9:58pm
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jon says...
Do you think using it as mulch around fruit trees should be fine?
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John
 
13th April 2013 10:37pm
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Anonymous says...
Amanda, how can you tell the difference between the kinds?
MJ
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4
 
13th April 2013 10:43pm
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amanda says...
I can't Anonymous/MJ - not for sure...that's why I pay an expert to do it for me ;-)

I have never had a problem with mulch/woodchip and my fruit trees attracting termites jon...(have had a few native plants bowled over - but they ate into the trunk at ground level and there was no woody mulch anywhere near them..)

I don't know of any friends with problems either...but that's not say it doesn't happen I suppose...?
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amanda19
 
15th April 2013 9:38am
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lenn says...
Not in agreement about having active termites in the garden and the statement that it does not matter. It's a bit like having the Hell's Angels as neighbours. The advice I obtained on a course WAS TO identify infected trees by inserting a thermometer into a drilled hole that reaches the brood cavity . If the temperature is raised above the ambient temperature then the tree is actively infested . Next you blow 250 grams of permethrin dust down the hole and ,if correctly place , the permethrin will kill the queen . Goodbye termites.
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lenn
 
17th April 2013 9:42am
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amanda says...
Lol...u don't live in WA do you lenn.. ;-)

You would need to drench vast tracts of land - as most live under the ground...
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amanda19
 
17th April 2013 11:05pm
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gardenererer says...
LOL, Amanda Negative on that --the brood chamber of termites, the most dangerous ones to us , is in the base of trees . The workers are underground but it is the queen one needs to kill.
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gardenererer
mt viv
18th April 2013 10:04am
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amanda says...
Well that's great if you live in suburbia gardenererer - but when u live on acerage bush blocks (or near them) then it's a bit futile really...better off baiting the perimeter of your home...we have 100's of trees around us so your method not really feasible...

I'll agree with my pest controller (an experienced expert) thanks :-)
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amanda19
 
18th April 2013 4:43pm
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John Mc says...
There's one more termite control measure I thought I might throw into the argument. I am doing up an old (ex)termite infested house atm. Being in the building game I wasn't about to throw away a couple of $thou on termite control in a hurry. Research led me to a product called Intrigue Termite dust. It is an inhibitor on the chitin production, similar to the description in BJ's thread, but with an active ingredient, triflumuron. The active termites only have to pick up the minutest amount of dust that eventually will be carried back to and wipe out the colony.
I was very impressed, If I found any active termites, during the reno, I'd puff a little dust on them and cover them back up. Two large active nests were totally wiped out. Now with the whole frame exposed, I haven't found a single live termite. Knowing where the termites entered and rectified, the house is now termite free.
There is a method of detection and elimination around the house perimeter but it's a little more involved. If any one is interested I will carry on where I left off here.
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JohnMc1
 
18th April 2013 7:13pm
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amanda says...
Sounds interesting John Mc..? I'd like to hear more about that method please..it's termite heaven here in Leschenault... :)

Does that dust work on any other insects (good or bad)..? Don't they all have chitin in their exoskeleton?
Or does the dust just remain under the house...?
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amanda19
 
19th April 2013 9:22am
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Brain says...
Yes, second to keep going John Mc!
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Brain
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19th April 2013 10:32am
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jon says...
I would love to hear more as well I have termites all over my block.
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John
 
19th April 2013 12:18pm
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gardenererer says...
Glad to hear you have an experienced expert- hate to see an inexperienced expert!. No, you don't need to do 100's of trees . One can educate oneself to recognise termite affected trees and treat them only. And it is trees in the zero to 50 metre area from dwellings that matter.
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gardenererer
mt viv
19th April 2013 12:38pm
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amanda says...
hehe...by "experienced" expert - I mean a cupla older gentlemen who have been in the game many years (not a newbie) anyway - lets hear from John :)
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amanda19
 
19th April 2013 1:33pm
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tyre says...
I'm having a little problem with your anecdote ,John. The method you describe is valid, of course. But the reported result does not sound right. Why? Because the chiton inhibitor only affects newly developing termites and there will still be the same number of adults right up to the point where they start dying off. Thus, you will see no total destruction of the nests-- only fewer recruits over time.
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tyre
 
19th April 2013 2:30pm
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gardenererer says...
The method of finding and killing the queen is in Phillip Haddlington's book ,Australian termites and as demonstrated by the author . Need I defer to two nameless duffers that happened to visit A's house.?
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mt viv
19th April 2013 4:26pm
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amanda says...
Thanks anyway John - time for me to leave this topic...I am sensing a familiar "vibe"... ;-)
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amanda19
 
19th April 2013 5:55pm
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John Mc says...
tyre, you're probably right. My research took me as far as I needed to go to get the result I was looking for. I didn't go any further. The product description contained everything that suited my application and it worked.
I have no technical knowlege on the efficacy of the product. If you are interested, maybe you could digest the info for us and explain in layman's terms how it is supposed to work. Google "Triflumuron". if interested.

For those interested in detecting termites around the house perimeter, it is suggested to cut some soft pine into 6inch lengths. Cut one end into a wedge so they can be driven into the ground with just the top showing. Now, or before driving them into the ground, drill two holes, I'd say 19mm x 70 to 90mm lengthways into the timber and cover the drilled holes with a piece of clear perspex.
The object of the exercise is to monitor the perspex untill you see mud being plastered to the underside of the perspex. When you see the mudded up persex, the termites are inside the chamber, it's just a matter of carefully removing the perspex, puffing in some Intrigue termite dust, replace the perspex and let the dust do it's job. They say the nest will be gone in 2 to 3 months. There could be visiting termites from more than one nest.
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19th April 2013 6:57pm
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amanda says...
Thanks JohnMc :-)
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amanda19
 
21st April 2013 10:25am
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Brain says...
JohnMc, would you be able to kindly post a pic of said contraption? I am having some issues visualising it due to my limited imagination. :). Jokes aside, I suspect my neighbour (with their untreated pine bark mulch) is a heaven for termites and would like some evidence that there are active termites about. thank you in advance.
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Brain
Brisbane
22nd April 2013 11:53am
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John Mc says...
Leave it with me, I'll see what I can do.
Hope this diagram helps.
As you can see it's just a piece of pine with a wedge on the base and two holes drilled in the top with a piece of clear perspex covering the holes.
Please excuse the poor graphic, It's not my forte.
Pictures - Click to enlarge

Picture: 1
  
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JohnMc1
 
22nd April 2013 5:21pm
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Original Post was last edited: 22nd April 2013 6:41pm
amanda says...
Stuff it - I am going to stick up for the supposed "duffers" :o)

This is just a part of my front yard...(and every other block around here too..) It's crazy to suggest we check and treat each tree - and anyway I refuse to do so!?
(except my fruit trees)

The reason being that termites are very much a part of the ecosystem that u see in this pic...
They kill the trees for sure - which may then rot and provide food for any number of creatures - they also hollow out branches, stumps etc - which also provide habitats for our native animals...
They recycle nutrients and this provide soil food...
They sequester carbon ... and so much more...

Some folks just can't see the Forest for the Trees..? ;-)
Pictures - Click to enlarge

Picture: 1
  
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22nd April 2013 7:40pm
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gardenererer says...
Why don't you do some reading A. and then you may not say what you are saying now. Start by understanding the life cycle of termites and the zone of activity of a nest. Then you won't need to say the b. obvious about termites being part of nature's plan and generally misunderstanding the situation.
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mt viv
23rd April 2013 9:48am
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Brendan says...
Hope you have a decent chainsaw amanda! LOL :-) I prefer Husqvarna over Stihl btw.
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Brendan
Mackay, Q
23rd April 2013 10:00am
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amanda says...
Hey Brendan - I just bought one of those new gadgets (Bosch) called "Keo" and it's a battery charged pruning saw and it's been brilliant!?
It won't chop down trees (that's Nicks job ;) but does up to 6cm diameter branches...the battery is built-in and I did 6 very, very large stone fruit trees the other day - on one battery...
(4 trees down to the stump ready to take out)

Very happy - as the hand saw is a killer on my elbows...

Nick is actually about to buy a new c/saw and looking at both those brands - so that's good to know :)
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23rd April 2013 10:08am
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Brain says...
JohnMc, I think I get you now, thanks for your drawing! I thought the perspex side with the holes is on the bottom, thinking that the muds/timber bits settle on the bottom and you'd have to pull out the wedge to check. Thank you again and I'll give this a try :).
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Brain
Brisbane
23rd April 2013 10:11am
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John Mc says...
No probs. The idea of the clear perspex covering the holes is when they find and chew their way into the wood cavity, the first thing they want to do is block out the light. That's when you will see the mud being plastered onto the inside of the perspex. It's an indication to you that they are present.
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23rd April 2013 6:05pm
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lenn says...
Checked out the INTRIGUE web site and oddly they don't seem entirely confident in the killing of termite nests with the chiton inhibitor alone . They recommend use of a neo- nicotinoid insecticide as well.
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lenn
 
24th April 2013 9:34am
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