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Termite-infested mulch rumors are false – Another Urban Legend

"In the past few days, an anonymous Internet message has appeared warning consumers and industry about potential termite-infested mulch from the New Orleans cleanup after Hurricane Katrina", announced Lin Diacont, President of the Virginia Green Industry Council, "this e-mail is a false rumor". The following information was received from the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC)

Here are the facts:

As for the possible infestation of mulch with Formosan Subterranean Termites, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry has quarantines in 12 infested parishes (counties). No wood or cellulose materials may be moved out of the quarantine areas without approval from state inspectors, including all materials from Katrina clean-up efforts.

The Mulch & Soil Council (MSC) has been working with the industry, government agencies and major retailers to create product certification standards for both mulch and soil. One of the conditions of certification is that no treated wood from construction and demolition (C&D) can be ground for use as mulch. Thus, mixed wood from the hurricane cleanup would not be allowed in any MSC Certified mulch

Louisiana State University termite expert Dr. Dennis Ring explained that this termite was introduced into this country after World War II; it has been around for more than 50 years. The Formosan Subterranean Termite prefers a moist environment at approximately 57°F (14°C). According to experts, the practical survivability of a soft-bodied insect withstanding the violent environment inside the mulch grinding process or the high temperatures (130°F – 160°F) of mulch packages and pallet stacks is extremely unlikely.

Dr. William Fonteno (of North Carolina State University and program director for the Mulch & Soil Council Product Certification Program) inspected over 500 bags of mulch and soil products taken from retail stores in 2005. No products inspected from anywhere in the country had any live termite presence—not a single bag.

For More information please visit these websites:

The MSC press release can be found at the following URL:

Multiple websites have begun providing information debunking the widely circulated Internet message. Here are a few resources you may wish to

From the National Plant Board:

From Rumor Website:

From Texas Nursery & Landscape Assn:

From Texas A&M Extension:

From Louisiana State University:

From Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry:

From media tracker:

The Virginia Green Industry Council is the voice of the horticulture industry in the Commonwealth and is dedicated to enhancing the beauty of the state’s environment, the well-being of our citizens, improving our state’s economy, and improving the health and wellness for everyone in Virginia. The Council is made up of providers and consumers of horticultural products and services. The Council works to provide public and industry education, environmental guidelines and other information that will keep Virginia green and growing. For more information, visit 
FAX: 540-382-2716

Mission Statement: To unify, strengthen and promote the Green Industry and maintain, promote and certify industry practices and principles that keep Virginia green and growing.
Vision Statement:
VGIC is the proactive voice of Virginia’s Green Industry coordinating Green industry organizations, providing education, environmental guidelines and other information keeping Virginia green and growing.


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