Whether you are using lava rocks for landscaping or gardening, you will love the myriad of benefits they add to your home and garden. Many people using lava rocks have them for their beauty and weight because they are as easy to spread as mulch.
Some people complain that lava rocks attract bugs such as termites to their home or garden. Is it true?
Do lava rocks attract bugs?
Lava rocks do not attract bugs. If bugs are visiting your home or garden, they may be there because of other factors.
If you still feel that lava rocks are the cause of an insect infestation in your home or garden, you should check the area around the lava rocks because the insects may be attracted by something else.
What else can attract bugs to your home or garden? What are the pros and cons of using lava rocks as mulch? This article will answer these questions and more.
Do Lava Rocks Attract Bugs?
People sometimes see a lot of bugs between their lava rocks. For example, some people say that termites are attracted to their homes because of the newly installed lava rocks.
In reality, the termites might be attracted to your home or garden because of what is under the lava rocks or they could be coming for other reasons.
Let us discuss some reasons why bugs could be coming to your home or garden.
Why Are Bugs Coming To Your Home or Garden?
Bugs visit our homes for many reasons. Some of the most popular reasons are:
1. Readily Available Sources of Food
If bugs find a food source in your home or garden, they will come in droves (probably passing through the lava rocks).
If you have a compost bin, it is a regular source of food for insects and other pests, so it may seem like they are attracted by the lava rocks (mulch) but they are actually attracted by the compost bin.
2. An Attractant
Some plants have pleasant smells for insects. Different plants in landscapes attract insects because of their beautiful colors and scents.
You should consider the various plants in your home or garden that can attract insects.
One purpose of mulching with lava rocks is to prevent the growth of weeds. This works by keeping the moisture under the lava rocks.
While weeds will not grow in this condition (because there is no moisture above the lava rocks so the weed cannot anchor on the moisture-free rock surface), microbes such as fungi and bacteria thrive in moisture.
Bugs such as termites are attracted by the population of decomposing microbes such as fungi, so you will see termites in places full of moisture. This means that the lava rocks are not attracting the termites (and other bugs), but they are attracted by the moisture under the lava rocks.
Asides from termites, organisms such as earthworms and nematodes also love to dwell under rocks. You should note that other types of mulch also keep moisture below them.
4. Decaying Materials Under the Rocks
One major reason why people use lava rocks as mulch is that they do not decay or release nutrients into the ground.
This simply means that if insects such as termites that eat decaying materials visit your home often, they are not attracted by the lava rocks. Instead, they are attracted by something decaying under the lava rocks.
If you used organic mulch such as wood shavings in the past, the decaying remnants could be what are attracting the termites.
When plants produce flowers, many insects visit the flowers to collect nectar and pollinate the plant. If insects visit your home or garden when your plants are flowering, they could be coming because of the flowers and not because of the lava rocks.
As you can see, there are many reasons why bugs could visit your home and garden, and lava rocks are not directly responsible for any bug infestations.
Pros and Cons of Using Lava Rocks in Your Garden
Even though lava rocks are not the cause of bugs in your garden, you should still consider their pros and cons before using them in your garden or in landscaping as mulch.
Some pros of lava rocks are:
- Prevents Weed Growth: Like other types of mulch, using lava rocks can prevent the growth of weeds. You can also use weed fabric under the lava rocks to totally eliminate the chance of weeds growing.
- Does Not Decompose: Organic mulch such as wood shavings decompose and you’ll have to add more eventually. Lava rocks, however, do not decompose, so you will be using them for a long time.
- Great for Your Succulent Garden: If you are planning to start a succulent garden, you can use lava rocks as the substrate as succulent plants prefer a well-drained nutrient-poor substrate.
- Beautifies Your Home and Garden: Lava rocks come in red, brown, and other colors that can match the color of your home and make the environment beautiful.
- Light Weight: Lava rocks are easy to install because they are not heavy. You don’t have to use heavy equipment when working with lava rocks.
Some disadvantages of using lava rocks are:
- Large Rocks Can Be Shelter for Pests: The larger the rock, the more pests can hide under it. Bugs, snakes, and other pests can hide under or around large lava rocks.
- No Added Nutrients for Garden Soil: Some gardeners use organic mulch because it also doubles as a slow-release fertilizer. Since lava rocks are inorganic, you’ll have to fertilize your plants more often as the mulch is not giving them any nutrients.
- Not Everyone Likes Red Lava Rocks: The color of lava rocks in your region may not be the exact color that you are looking for. This can be a challenge in landscaping.
Related Questions and Answers
Here is even more information about lava rocks and bugs for you:
1. How Do You Repel Bugs from Your Garden?
Here are some methods to repel bugs from your garden or home:
- Plant Crops that Repel Bugs: Plants such as garlic, catnip, mint, marigolds, hot Chile peppers, vetiver grass, etc. can repel some insect species. You just have to grow these plants at the garden edge or between your garden crops.
- Keep the Garden Clean and Simple: Always make sure that you dispose of your wastes the right way. Also, do not fill the garden with too much organic fertilizer as it can attract bugs.
- Prune Out Dead Leaves: Some bugs are attracted by decomposing parts of plants. If you prune off decaying leaves, stems, and branches immediately when you see them, it will help reduce the number of bugs in your garden.
- Use Closed Compost Bins: These compost bins are not open but have little holes through which gases such as oxygen can pass. These bins prevent pests from entering your compost pile.
- Use Insecticides: You can always use insecticides to repel bugs away from your garden.
2. Are Lava Rocks Good for Plants?
As mulch, lava rocks are excellent for plants. The only difference between lava rocks and other types of mulch (especially organic mulch) is that lava rocks do not release nutrients to the plants.
So long as your plants receive a sufficient dose of fertilizer regularly, lava rocks make great mulch.
3. Are Lava Rocks Toxic?
Admittedly, some lava rocks can contain iron and other heavy metals. You should purchase the lava rocks from landscape supply shops and rinse them before use.
For better confirmation of the safety of the rocks, you can test them before using them as mulch.
4. How Long Do Lava Rocks Last For?
Lava rocks can last for more than 2 years. Due to regular rainfall and other causes of weathering, your lava rocks can crack and cracks can lead to the splitting of rocks. Prepare for replacement of the rocks after 2-3 years.
5. What Other Rocks Can You Use for Landscaping?
Aside from lava rocks, here are some rocks that you can use as mulch:
- River Rocks: River rocks are great as they come in multiple colors and sizes. You can use river rocks to beautify your home.
- Decomposed Granite: This weathered granite gives the landscape a smooth and beautiful aesthetic.
- Pea Gravel: In landscaping, pea gravels are best for walkways, playgrounds, patios, etc.
Lava rocks do not attract bugs. Bugs may be attracted to your home or garden because of food, attractants, moisture, and other factors.
You should use lava rocks as mulch in your garden or home because they have a lot of uses and benefits.