termites in my stockpile of woodchips

doctorsteve(6)June 14, 2007

Last month I had two trees taken down, and got a substantial pile of woodchips, which I have been planning to use as mulch.

Today, I started to shovel chips into the wheelbarrow, and found that the woodchip pile is swarming with termite workers. This seems like a different scenario than most I've found in searches, which are people wondering whether woodchips will "attract" termites, or worrying about finding some in a bag. Here I've undoubtedly got a native colony -- thankfully at the back property line and not near any structures.

Wondering if I should count this pile as a loss, or whether transporting barrelloads of chips with termites to garden beds (nearer, though not touching, house or shed) will pose a risk or instead will just remove bunches of workers from their nice moist mound to die lonely deaths when a thinner layer of mulch they are now in dries out.

Reason seems to tell me that unless I happen to relocate the queen, they are not going to establish a new colony wherever I dump a wheelbarrow-full of them, but if I'm wrong, it would be a potentially costly mistake.

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jean001(z8aPortland, OR)

Your reasoning is correct.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 3:44AM
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doctorsteve(6)

Thanks, Jean. It seemed logical, but I needed some reassurance. I think I've picked up some of that homeowner tendency to have the reaction to seeing termites that medieval Europeans had when they saw signs of the leprosy.

Still, it's a good lesson for me in showing how quickly a nest can be established when the conditions are ripe for it. (From what I've read, it's unlikely they were a colony that was established in the tree from which the chips were made, as they would not have survived the chipper, or at least so lots of websites claim.) But much of the wood was probably already rotting, so it quickly got moist and inviting.

(OK, now that I've lost my excuse to stop shoveling, I guess it's back to work in the garden!)

    Bookmark   June 15, 2007 at 3:54PM
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