How to Get Rid of Bugs in Mulch? 

Mulch is awesome. However, it has some drawbacks. One of these is that many bugs enjoy it. Mulch offers a relatively safe environment for bugs to dwell and breed. If you have it around your plants, it eventually becomes home to some pests. If you do not deal with them quickly, you could end up with an infestation that can quickly spread into your home. So… how to get rid of bugs in mulch?

First, let’s start by learning about what attracts bugs to mulch. That way, you can prevent any infestations. In general, different mulches attract different types of bugs. Most bugs prefer organic mulches because they have a higher humidity. Let’s check out what other types of mulch attracts bugs.

Two Japanese Beatles attack a flower
The unfriendly face of a Japanese Beattle.

Does Mulch Attract Bugs? 

Mulch naturally creates conditions that many insects seek. There it can attract ants, cockroaches, millipedes, centipedes, spiders, sowbugs, and earwigs. These bugs can feed on garden pests and are useful for decomposing organic mulch. Sometimes it is best to leave them alone if they don’t disturb you (or your plants).

Rumor has it mulch can bring termite colonies to your house. However, in reality, the likelihood of termites being delivered in organic mulch is quite low. Even if they made it through the bagging process, there would still need to be enough termites to support reproduction. I recommend leaving the mulch bag in the sun before spreading it if you’re worried about pests. Any bugs in the bags will be killed once the mulch hits 120 degrees Fahrenheit.

Inorganic mulches are much less likely to draw above-ground pests. If you’re that worried about pests, I recommend purchasing this inorganic mulch instead. It provides the same benefits as normal mulch while keeping the pests away.

Now, let’s take a deeper look at specific bugs that are attracted to mulch. More importantly, how to get rid of bugs in mulch!

Many different kinds of brightly colored bugs

Different Insects Attracted to Mulch

Ants

Ants frequently live under organic mulches because it provides protection and humidity. While there are easier and less expensive ways to deal with ants, I recommend using an organic pesticide.

Another method I’ve used involves two anthills. I simply pick up one anthill with my shovel and set it on top of another anthill. When two ant colonies clash, you will find that within a day or two, all the ants have either died or have fled to another location.

Termites 

If most of your house is wood, termites can be a major concern. Termites typically move into a mulch if it is primarily formed of wood chips (cedar mulch). They will feel at home there if there is a nearby food source, such as a shed or something constructed of wood. To eliminate termites in the mulch, you must remove their food source. Therefore if the mulch is made of wood chips, get rid of it.

Although insecticides can significantly lower the termite population quickly, they are typically only short-term fixes. Replace the wood chip mulch with hay, grass, or rubber mulch.

Cockroaches 

Roaches prefer to reside in mulch when a lot of food is available. One of the biggest causes of roaches living in your mulch is if you use compost created from food trash. The roaches will have no trouble getting to the compost and constructing a nest there, even if it is below the topsoil.

You should remove both the compost and the mulch to prevent further issues with roaches. Cockroaches won’t consume grass, so replace the compost with grass mulch. You’ll also notice that the grass mulch won’t attract termites.

Flies 

Flies, as I said before, tend to congregate around mulch if it has food. This food might be a dead animal or even your compost. One of the main causes of flies congregating near mulch is the use of kitchen leftovers in composting.

You may get rid of all the flies in the mulch in a matter of days by removing the compost and using an insecticide designed specifically for flies. That’s one of the easiest ways on how to get rid of bugs in mulch.

Spiders 

Since they are mostly predators and will eat a variety of insects, spiders are usually good for mulch. However, if you don’t want them in your mulch, you must use a spider-specific insecticide. Additionally, as most spiders prefer darkness, eliminating the top layer of mulch and allowing sunshine to enter the places where the spiders live may completely eradicate the problem.

Yellowjackets 

Yellowjackets are predatory wasps that can consume various pests in and around your home and garden. There is a strong likelihood of a colony in the mulch if you start spotting a few yellowjackets nearby. You must use an insecticide and spray the mulch with it to get rid of yellowjackets. Additionally, since dead animals like slugs, snails, beetles, and the like are what attract yellowjackets to mulch, it is a good idea to remove them.

Bees 

Rarely will bees establish a colony right inside mulch. This typically occurs if your mulch is piled high around your trees or is relatively deep. The good news is that bees often follow their queen. If you relocate the queen, the bees will follow.

You should enlist the aid of a beekeeper for this, as they will typically remove the bees at no cost to you (and keep them).

Mosquitoes 

Mosquitoes typically prefer moist, dark environments for reproduction. Chances are good that your mulch contains everything that! Mosquitoes are likely reproducing in your mulch if you notice many of them there. There are typically two causes: your mulch is packed thickly, or there is water just beneath the mulch. 

You must remove all of the mulch and wait a few days for the soil to completely dry out if there are mosquitoes in the mulch. A new layer of mulch can be applied after a few days, but you must thin it and, most importantly, do not use the same mulch again.

Ticks 

Ticks are more drawn to the plants that grow in the mulch than they are to the mulch itself. They frequently climb the topmost branches and twigs to wait for an animal or a person to pass. Ticks are typically carried to the mulch by animals, including your pets. Use an insecticide formulated specifically for ticks or a tick repellent to eliminate ticks in the mulch.

Mulch doesn’t need to be removed because attracting wild animals will just result in their bringing back more ticks.

Final Thoughts 

As you can see, how to get rid of bugs in mulch is not that difficult. However, you will need to move quickly, especially if you have a large garden. When there are no other options, bug repellents and insecticides should be employed; nevertheless, most of the time, replacing the mulch will eliminate the bugs.

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How to get rid of bugs in mulch

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