FAQ: What about termites?

So you want to build a hugel, but you’re worried about termites near your house. Are termites attracted to hugels or not?

ANSWER:

There’s no simple answer to this question.

  • I have 85m2 of hugels in my yard, and termites are present in the areas of native vegetation in the yard. In three and a half years, I have not found any termites active in my hugels or woodchip paths.
  • Many species of sub-terranian termites in Australia are not the ones that invade and eat houses. That may be different where you live, so do your research and speak to a pest controller.
  • The environment in a hugel may not be amenable to termites. It’s moist and there is also a lot of green stuff in there; lots of stuff rotting, lots of bugs and worms and bacteria competing for nutrients.  This is not a dead zone – it is very much alive and I suspect that it is too competitive an environment for termites.
  • Termites are a natural part of the habitat, and work together with other insects to break down organic matter and build soils. If you hugel garden is very close to your house, you might rethink the use of large amounts of rotting wood.
  • Some people suggest using smaller pieces of wood, or woodchip because termites nest in larger, dry seasoned pieces with grain structure still in place. Thinner branches (rather than big logs) as they are not be suitable for house damaging termites to feed on.

Bonus Myth:

If you have ants, you won’t have termites.

Sorry, but this is not true.  Although ants and termites are enemies by nature, unless there are no other food sources, they will coexist.

In a hugel, there’s plenty of food for ants, so they will not destroy a termite colony for you.

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