I have been informed that pine wood chips attract termites. The previous owner covered about a 1/4 acre of our lot with the mulch. Is there a safe way to use them, or should I consider keeping the chips a reasonable distance from the house? We like the appearance and would like to use them again if it is safe.
Many people ask whether wood mulch will attract termites. Studies show that while termites may feed on wood mulch it is not an adequate source of nutrition. Therefore, it is unlikely that termites would seek it out as a food source. However, subterranean termites favor the cool, moist soil conditions created by mulches, especially inorganic ones such as gravel, which retains more moisture. This does not mean you shouldn’t use mulch, just be sure that it does not touch the foundation of your house or any other wood structures such as deck supports, or steps. It is recommended that you keep mulch about 18" away from the foundation of your house. This will prevent termites from attacking your house undetected. It also allows the soil between your house and your flower beds to dry out, making it less attractive to subterranean termites.
You can also apply a termite barrier around the foundation of your house to further prevent termites from moving from flower beds to your home. Check with your pest control company for the best options in your area.
You might want to consider using cedar mulch if available. Its aromatic oils are a natural insect repellent.