By Peter McManus

Something annoying happened today.

I weeded my front garden and then got a bag of last yearís leftover shredded hardwood mulch from my garage. Upon dumping the bag onto the garden, something seemed weird, as it came out as a clump, instead of pouring out. Unfortunately, I ignored my intuition that something wasnít right, and broke open the clump with a hand spade. Out poured what seemed like thousands of termites.

I didnít know what to do, so I quickly put the broken pieces of the clump back into the bag, and then started hand shoveling bug-laden piles of dirt and mulch back into the bag. After a while I got most of them, but some were still crawling around. I then sprayed the area with ant spray, the only insecticide I had on hand. (Later I found from the web that ants are the primary enemy of termites; but I also learned that the primary ingredient of the ant spray is a poison that keeps termites away, but doesnít necessarily kill them.)

I disguised the mulch bag as regular trash by putting it into a trash bag with some empty beer boxes. I put it out by the street and the trash collectors removed the whole toxic mess this afternoon.

Iím thinking I donít have to worry too much about the worker termites that evaded my grasp. The main problem would be the reproductive critters. Namely, the queen, which I believe went out with the trash, because the web says the queen is very big (and can lay 1000ís of eggs a day), and I didnít see anything like that.


I believe they probably havenít infected my house. There was a half-used bag of peat moss right underneath the shredded mulch, with nary a termite in the whole bag (but if I were a termite, I think I would prefer the moist, somewhat structured shredded hardwood to the dry powdery peat moss).

Mom thinks I should invite over a termite company to take a look. Anyone have any ideas? Reluctantly, I think maybe I should also inform my nearest neighbors of this unfortunate incident.


Unpublished work © 2002 Peter McManus