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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: SOIL APPLICATION OF AGRICULTURAL WASTE TO IMPROVE CROP PRODUCTION SYSTEMS AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY

Location: National Soil Dynamics Laboratory

Title: Evaluation of Old and New Commercial Mulches for Termite Management in Alabama

Authors
item Hu, Xing - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Sibley, J - AUBURN UNIVERSITY
item Torbert, Henry

Submitted to: Southern Nursery Association Research Conference
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: August 6, 2008
Publication Date: August 6, 2008
Citation: Hu, X.P., Sibley, J.L., Torbert III, H.A. 2008. Evaluation of Old and New Commercial Mulches for Termite Management in Alabama. In: Proc. Southern Nursery Association Research Conference, August 6-7, 2008, Atlanta, GA. CDROM.

Interpretive Summary: Wood-feeding subterranean termites are the most destructive pests attacking homes. Commercial cellulose-based mulches are often used around houses and plants and may increase the risk of them being attacked by termites. This study investigated the resistance/susceptibility of a newly developed composted municipal garbage substitute along with 7 conventional mulches. Results indicated that mulches that are favorable for termite occurrence are pine chips, pine bark, and pine shaving; suitable are pine straw, cypress, and cedar; unsuitable are garbage compost and rubber. These results indicate that the composted garbage can be a suitable substitute to wood-based mulches and had the termite-hostile properties as reused urban waste.

Technical Abstract: Wood-feeding subterranean termites are the most destructive pests attacking homes. Commercial cellulose-based mulches are often used around houses and plants. Consequently, they increase the risk of houses/plants being attacked by termites. This study investigated the resistance/susceptibility of a newly developed composted municipal garbage substitute along with 7 conventional mulches. To determine the termite foraging preference, a choice-test was conducted under natural field conditions at the E.V. Smith Research Station. Mulches were tested in groups of 9 (8 mulches and 1 bare ground as control) using a random design. There were 4 replicates. Presence of termites in mulch and termite activity 10-cm in ground beneath the mulch were recorded monthly for a one-year period. Monitoring wood sticks installed around the testing plot indicated that high population pressure of the eastern subterranean termites, Reticulitermes flavipes, existed. Results indicated that mulches that are favorable for termite occurrence are pine chips, pine bark, and pine shaving; suitable are pine straw, cypress, and cedar; unsuitable are garbage compost and rubber. These results indicate that the composted garbage can be a suitable substitute to wood-based mulches and had the termite-hostile properties as reused urban waste.

Last Modified: 10/1/2014