Considering that termites are universally known for consuming wood, it makes sense for people to be concerned about purchasing termite-contaminated mulch. In order to ensure that commercially available mulch is not contaminated with termites, regulations require suppliers to subject their mulch products to a decontamination process before being sold to distributors. In fact, it is illegal in many states to sell untreated mulch products to the public. These laws came into effect after termite-contaminated mulch from Louisiana had been shipped to nearby states. In this case, the Louisiana mulch had been produced from the many trees and wooden structures that fell in response to Hurricane Katrina. Since several termite species are abundant in Louisiana, including the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, it should not have surprised anyone to learn that the mulch produced from downed houses and trees in the state contained termites.
To make matters worse, studies have shown that termite infestations in southeastern states increase following hurricanes. This additional factor contributed greatly to the high contamination rates in the mulch that had been produced from downed trees and houses in Louisiana following Hurricane Katrina. Unfortunately, officials in Bay County, Florida have decided to allow citizens to take for free the vast amounts of mulch that originated from the numerous wooden structures and trees that fell as a result of Hurricane Michael. Of course, this free mulch has not been treated, making a termite presence within the mulch highly likely.
In response to being overwhelmed with wooden waste from downed trees and structures following Hurricane Michael, county leaders are allowing the Bay County Solid Waste Superintendent to convert the waste into mulch so that residents can take it off of their hands for free. Superintendent Glenn Ogborn did mention that the untreated mulch is “not suitable for all purposes”, and it may contain rot and termites. Considering that the state of Florida is home to the greatest number of invasive termite species when compared to all other states, the chances of spreading termites to new locations within mulch is highly probable. So far, the waste department has collected more than 4.47 million cubic yards of wood debris from Bay County alone, and there is more to come.
Do you think that it is irresponsible of the local government in Bay County to allow residents to take mulch that is highly likely to contain termites as a result of post hurricane conditions and the state’s high termite population?