Mulch mainly comes in two forms: organic (natural) and inorganic (artificial).
Although both types have countless benefits, there are downsides too, which include attracting bugs and pests. However, certain wood mulches such as cypress are common for their bug-repelling nature.
Nonetheless, recently the ability to repel bugs has been in dispute. Some people even consider it a myth or notion passed on by cypress mulch sellers to add in more sales.
So, in reality, does cypress mulch repel bugs?
Cypress mulch does repel bugs. It’s proven that heartwood from yesteryear trees effectively repels bugs. However, current mulches might not repel bugs mainly because they’re from young trees with little to no heartwood.
Read on to understand this issue in depth.
Also Check: Cypress vs. Cedar Mulch
Does Cypress Mulch Repel Bugs?
Yes, research proves that cypress mulch effectively repels bugs. It will, though, greatly depend on the mulch sourcing.
Mulch sourced from past years’ trees such as the tidewater red cypress (Taxodium distichum), commonly known as gulf and swamp cypress, repel bugs. Estimates say this is the world’s oldest known wetland tree dating 2624 years ago.
Mature tidewater cypress heartwood is ideal for repelling bugs.
However, recent studies show that most bugs feed on cypress sapwood mulch just like any other non-repelling wood mulch.
The question if cypress mulch repels bugs comes up because today’s mulch is mainly from young trees. These trees consist of sapwood and minimal to no heartwood.
Therefore compared to yesteryear mulch, standard cypress mulch today doesn’t repel bugs effectively. But if sourcing is from the heartwood, which has concentrates of natural oils and chemicals such as thujone, it will.
Does Cypress Mulch Attract Termites?
No, Cypress mulch doesn’t attract termites but repels them. Termites are insects of significant concern because they can cause major damage. They attack and destroy wood, including most tree-made mulches.
When termites get way into any wooden structure, they cause costly destruction.
Due to this, cypress mulch has been a favorite for many for having the advantage of being termite repellant.
However, it would be best if you insisted on mulch sourced from heartwood while getting cypress mulch. Most people even surround their foundation to keep termites away from their homes.
They further do this because aside from repelling termites, it also has antifungal properties that derail decay.
Yet, the University of Florida’s Extension (IFAS) might disapprove of this. As per their study, termites attack today’s cypress mulch just as any non-repellant wood mulch. They instead suggest that eucalyptus and melaleuca mulch is more distasteful to termites compared to today’s cypress.
But, the study does confirm that termites attack today’s cypress mulch from young trees. Mulch from the heartwood of yesteryear trees, such as the tidewater red cypress, repels termites.
So, before getting that mulch, ensure it doesn’t contain sapwood. The sap part attracts termites and causes more damage than good as it’s their favorite meal.
Should You Put Cypress Mulch Against Your House?
No, you shouldn’t. Even though it repels bugs, it’s not advisable to put it against your house.
Most people place it around their houses intending to keep bugs away, but it’s not a good idea due to various reasons.
First, you can never be entirely sure of the sourcing. You might have purchased mulch that contains sapwood, and for this, it’s advisable to keep the mulch at least 6 inches far from your home foundation.
Also, always apply the mulch with depths of not more than 2-3 inches, and make sure you disturb it often with a rake to minimize bugs infections.
Secondly, tree mulches are a fire hazard and very flammable. Shredded cypress mulch can even ignite if it becomes too dry.
But circumstances may force some to put the mulch in close proximity to their houses. If this is the case, ensure you consult with your home inspector, as some areas are riskier than others, depending on climatic conditions.
How Do I Keep Bugs Out Of My Cypress Mulch?
There are natural and unnatural ways of keeping bugs out of your cypress mulch. As discussed, today’s cypress mulch might not repel bugs well.
It’s, therefore, essential to take precautions and be aware of the steps you can take to avoid attacks or eliminate already infected bugs from your mulch.
A few of the natural and non-natural methods to keep bugs from mulches.
- Use of citrus peels (Lemon peels work wonders)
- Use of peppermint (dilute with water)
- Spray the mulch with vinegar (dilute with water)
- By spreading nematodes (specifically steinema carpocapsae)
- Use of castile soap ( This is a kind of natural soap that repels bugs)
- Make peanut butter poison (mixed with sugar and borax makes a natural poison to most bugs)
- Use of commercial pesticides
In addition, ensure that the mulch is bug-free before initially laying down the mulch. You can do this by placing the mulch in black bags and letting it sit in the sun for a few days.
Put it out in temperatures of 120 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days. This step will eliminate any potential bugs that might have been in the mulch, as per the study done by Iowa State University Extention Dept of Horticulture and home pests.
Does Cypress Mulch Repel Other Insects?
Cypress heartwood generally repels most insects, from termites to roaches, carpet beetles, and certain ants.
However, cedar mulch is proven to work better in keeping off some insects and bugs, such as cloth moths and ants.
On top of that, the Delta (Louisiana) Sierra club organization disputes whether cypress mulch does repel insects. The organization states that most insects don’t have a sense of smell, and therefore, cypress mulch has minimal to no effect on them.
But the Neurobiology of Olfaction confirms they do.
Aside from repelling insects, there are other reasons for you to consider cypress mulch—this includes.
1. It’s aesthetic. Cypress mulch has an attractive blondish color. It also has a pleasant scent when fresh.
2. Other mulches blow away and wash over time, but it stays in place. An example is pine mulch, which easily floats away with rain.
3. It prevents weeds from growing as it blocks growth and bars airborne seeds from reaching the soil.
4. It feeds the soil with nutrients while breaking down, unlike rubber mulch which has no nutrient benefits to the soil.
Cypress vs. Cedar Mulch in Bugs Repelling?
Both cypress and cedar mulch work well in repelling bugs. However, research confirms that cedar mulch works best in repelling cloth-eating moths and ants. Cypress mulch on the other hand is ideal in repelling termites.
According to the North Carolina State University Department of Entomology, cedar mulch has much less Argentine ant invasion compared to cypress mulch.
Furthermore, although cypress is enduring, cedar mulch lasts longer. It might be a little pricey when initially getting it, but it’s cost-effective in the long run as you don’t need to replace it often.
What Does Cypress Mulch Repel?
Cypress mulch repels most insects. Its aroma is believed to keep off insects, particularly termites.
When the source is old-growth cypress trees, it will keep most insects. All you need to do is spread it on your garden or landscape and watch the bugs and pests ward off.
Cypress heartwood mulch from old-growth trees is also durable. It however, isn’t easy to find and expensive. Due to this, most people opt for the readily available mulch that comes from sapwood, and the results are damaging.
Does Cypress Mulch Keep Termites Away?
As discussed, keeping termites away is the main selling point of cypress mulch. Even though most wood mulches are a favorite habitat for termites, cypress isn’t.
Its aroma and natural chemicals drive them away.
What attracts termites to most mulches is the moisture retained. The mulch additionally covers them while digging tunnels and searching for food. These are ideal conditions to start their colonies.
Do Roaches Like Cypress Mulch?
Similar to other bugs, cypress mulch repels roaches. You might see some cockroaches roaming in your yard, and you’re lost for which mulch to use. Well, Cypress mulch does the trick.
Roaches such as the American cockroach love wood mulches. They mostly enjoy the moisture and cover. This however, isn’t the case with cypress, but they enjoy these conditions in pine straw mulch.
The Smoky brown cockroach is particularly very common in pine mulch as it’s pine needles enable it to dig through easily.
So, does cypress mulch repel bugs? Well, by now you know it does, but it mainly depends on the kind and part of trees the sourcing came from.
Mulch from the heartwood repels bugs, but young trees used today have minimum or no heartwood. These trees consist mainly of sapwood. If you’re getting cypress mulch for bug repelling, it would be best to ensure no sapwood is in the mix. It attracts bugs instead of repelling them.
On the other hand, the current cypress mulches not repelling bugs compared to yesteryear’s should probably be something to look into. It might signify that the cypress tree is under threat and opt for alternative mulches to minimize deforestation.