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An Old Mulch Tale???

Current E-Mail is Bogus

BOSTON -- It's all about mulch. As you probably know, mulch is a great way to spruce up your yard. It is also the subject of the top e-mail hoax circulating the country.

The e-mail goes like this: It says blown-down trees from Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans are being processed, making free mulch for anyone who will come haul it away.

The e-mail says much of it will likely be sold at Lowes and Home Depot dirt cheap. But -- also according to the e-mail -- destructive termites will be in the bags. It says: ''These termites can eat a house in no time. There's no control. Warn your friends.''

What you should warn your friends about is this e-mail. It's bogus.

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Urban Legend?

In reply to: An Old Mulch Tale???

Someone sent me that and then another person sent something from Snopes about it not being entirely true or something to that effect. As I recall it was about formosan termites and I doubt in Boston there would be much to worry about unless eggs were introduced into the house where they could over winter. I don't think those particular termites can survive northern winters, but I may be wrong.

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I know we don't have termite in Syracuse

In reply to: Urban Legend?

Of course, we do have carpenter ants.


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You know, those carpenter are worse.

In reply to: I know we don't have termite in Syracuse

They get into your porch or deck and it could be gonzo in one year. Every thing now around here is built with pressure treated wood. My first deck was regular wood and boy, did those carpenter ants have a feast. Piles of saw dust everywhere. I soaked it down with chlordane to get rid of them. Can't get the stuff anymore unless you are a licensed exterminator.


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Lye and Clorox mix

In reply to: You know, those carpenter are worse.

That's still a good one to help bare "untreated" wood. Done once every couple years, the wood will last almost as long as the treated stuff. The problem is application. Remember the school "bleachers" we used to sit on? Before treated wood, that's what they did.

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Good idea James...

In reply to: Lye and Clorox mix

Whats the mix. 50/50 straight or is water added???

I'm going to try that mixture around the base of my shed. Have'nt seen any signs of termites for years as I spray every spring and fall, but the stuff I have been using is $24.00 a pint (consentrated mix) One thing, if you buy any of that bug or ant killer stuff in a store, make sure it says termites with a pictures of the termite on the bottle. Otherwise, its a waste of money and, use termite killer for the carpenter ants. They don't give up easy either.

If you see them swarming in the spring or mud tracks on your foundation, you got them. They usally swarm near the nest, but for mud tracks look on the opposit side of your house. Thats were the nest should be. A buried stump or old wood. You have to get the nest to get rid of them. They are smart and the entry point is never were the nest is.


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In reply to: Good idea James...

You don't want to use it on a painted surface, it will likely soak into it and cause to peel off later.
I used Red Devil lye crystals and never had an exact mix. Basically it's how strong you are willing to use it, what you want to use it on, and the risk of getting it on you. You need to use strongest for ground contact areas, such as soaking wood fence post bottoms on untreated wood.

I don't know if they still sell it, but there was a "no splash" or heavy clorox that already had lye (sodium hydroxide) added to it. It's probably strong enough by itself. I've taken the clorox and added lye till it wouldn't mix anymore, till all the crystals wouldn't dissolve, a fully "saturated" solution, but you have to be VERY CAREFUL WITH IT. That sort of solution is so strong it will instantly start to burn the skin off if you get it on you. That's the "environmentally friendly" mix I've poured into my septic drain pipe twice to clear blockages by built up muck over the past 20 years.

Normally for tree roots you'd put copper sulfate into the septic drain field line to kill the roots back a few feet, but that's restricted now and the cost went up 1000% following EPA restriction. The copper sulfate also didn't dissolve built up "muck".

I get lye in a 25 pound bag for that from the farmer's co-op and mix a saturated solution (about same as liquid plumber) in 5 gallon paint pail for that, then pour down a two inch pipe with a funnel I've inserted into the drainfield. I then pull the pipe back a foot at a time as I put the solution in to make sure the entire drainfield gets it. Works wonders to dissolve and clear the drainfield.

Probably a gallon of clorox with a half cup of crystal lye would be a decent mixture to kill mold, mildew and preserve at the same time. Consider that you can make soap from lye with a cup of fat, half cup of water and 3 teaspoons of lye, that's how strong it is.

If you wet the wood with the mixture and let it surface dry between each application it will get some down into the wood and help preserve it. It's not as good as pressure treated wood, but about the best you can do without using poisonous product which can remain for years. Lye and clorox eventually breakdown in the presence of acids, such as acid rain, or acid water from soil runoff, creating sodium salts. When the lye breaks down in the wood it's like driftwood soaked in the salty ocean and tossed on shore for long life quality in the outdoors, but not quite as good as actual driftwood which was thoroughly soaked clear through. Down South, especially along shoreline areas, people will use interesting pieces of driftwood in outdoor gardens. The driftwood has been in the salt water often for weeks or years and fully soaked with sea salts and minerals, bleached by the sun and then delivered on shore where it dries out and is bleached even more by the strong southern sun. Such true driftwood (not the imitation stuff so many sell) will last 10-20 years depending on sunlight and humidity conditions when left in a garden even without further treatments. Soaking wood with bleach and lye combination mimics that process.

A lot of what's sold today as "driftwood" really isn't. Much of it's not from wood which spent weeks, months or even years in salt water, then washed up on shore, but instead just weathered wood above ground contact, or imitation done by sandblasting to give the appearance of driftwood.

If you want to make your own little piece of driftwood find a small twisted piece of wood or interesting piece of twig you cut to fit, or even a cut out piece of a knothole which can go into a quart size Mason jar. Add bleach, full strength, add one or two teaspoons of lye, cap it, and swirl around once every day or two. In a month pour that off and rinse the wood under some clear water to clean solution off the surface and then let it dry. You will have your own little piece of preserved and bleached driftwood.

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I suggest....

In reply to: An Old Mulch Tale???

... the mulch be spread over all those houses that need to be demolished, and let those super termites gobble them up. Happy

Snopes also declared it false.


I don't know who thinks this stuff up. These sorts of emails arrive all too often. So I end up sending them a link to Snopes. And I tell the senders that "send this to everybody in your address book" should be the first clue.

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Ha, ha. Sounds like a good way..

In reply to: I suggest....

to get rid of those houses down there Angeline. I have some pretty good blocking on my e-mails so I miss a lot of that wacky stuff that goes around.

I wonder, if those super termites eat up all the houses what happens with the excretions. Fertilizer instead of Mulch??:D


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(NT) (NT) 100 % urban legend!!

In reply to: An Old Mulch Tale???

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Proposal for beneficial use of termites

In reply to: An Old Mulch Tale???

The Use of Termites for the Bioconversion of Lignocellulosic and Agricultural Wastes to Animal Biomass

* 1. humanity produces huge amounts of lignocellulosic waste
* 2. termites are able to efficiently convert lignocellulosic material to animal biomass
* 3. a termite production system can potentially reduce the amount of lignocellulosic wastes needing disposal
* 4. the production system may generate useful byproducts
* 5. the resulting termite biomass can potentially be utilized as a food source for aquiculture.

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