Did you know that a mature termite colony will have many different sites where eggs are laid? If you find termite tunnels in your home, there is a good chance that more of these pests are wreaking havoc elsewhere.
Finding termite tunnels in the home is a common sign of an infestation. So, what should you do if this happens to you? Keep reading to find out.
What Are Termite Tunnels?
Termite tunnels or tubes provide termites shelter while they work. They can build these structures using nearby dirt, saliva, and waste. They do this to:
- Avoid being hunted
- Obtain food in hard-to-reach places
- Maintain moisture levels by staying in the soil
Termites cannot live without moisture so tunnels help keep them alive. Termites can bypass obstacles in the home through their tubes while they search for food.
Termite tubes are strong enough to be freestanding, but they commonly attach to solid surfaces like the foundation of your home and wood beams.
Termites use freestanding termite tubes to get to wood that’s harder to reach in specific home areas, like attics.
How Do Termites Build Mud Tunnels?
Termite mud tubes are small, roughly the size of a diameter of a pencil. Most termite tunnels are no more than 12 inches in length.
These tunnels are built with different materials, such as:
Termites will use these small materials and keep adding them to a surface until the tube gets covered enough to protect them.
As long as a termite has access to water and food, it won’t stop building tunnels. It takes them a few days to complete a basic mud tube but many weeks to make the tubes strong enough to use regularly.
Termites will look for structures like concrete cracks or rotten wood to build termite tunnels because they require less mud and, therefore, take less time to build.
A complete tunnel network for an entire termite colony can take several years to complete. If you notice termite tubes in the home, it’s likely that the pests have been active for at least a year.
Types of Termite Tunnels
When dealing with termites, knowing the different types of termite tunnels is essential. Mud tubes protect termites but each type of structure serves a different purpose for the colony as a whole.
Exploratory tubes are fragile and thin. You can spot them easily because they branch out in different directions. Like other tube types, they are made with the same dirt, saliva, and other materials listed above.
When built over metal or concrete, these tubes can reach up to 15 feet above the ground.
The tubes are used by termites to search for food. They rise out of the soil without connecting to any wood. By the time you find this type of tunnel, it is likely to be abandoned.
Working tubes, sometimes referred to as utility tubes, are used most often by termite colonies. These tubes are responsible for transporting termite colonies from nests to sources of food.
They are constructed with the same materials but can last longer than other types of tubes.
Working tubes allow termites to travel far distances between home foundations and basement walls. You may also find them in the following areas:
- Under porches
- Window frames
Part of getting rid of termites is knowing where to look for mud tubes.
Termite workers construct swarm tubes for swarmer termites that need to fly away from their colony.
Swarm tubes are designed to accommodate thousands of termite swarmers leaving the colony. Because many termites leave at the same time, swarm tubes are large and can be up to four feet wide.
Swarmer termites will get out through various exit holes and take flight. From there, they will mate and attempt to create a new colony.
Drop tubes look like stalagmites in caves which makes them easy to identify. Drop tubes are suspended between wood and the ground.
The purpose of a drop tube is to make food more accessible to termite workers by establishing a connection between working tubes and the ground.
These tubes contain more wood material so they are typically lighter in color than working or exploratory tubes, but they are similar in size to exploratory mud tubes.
Removing Termite Tubes
Termite tubes that are dry and crumble when you come into contact with them indicate that the insects have moved on. Active termite tunnels, however, have busy termites present and will still be damp.
Dried-out tubes are still signs of a termite problem. They may indicate that termites used that tube as an entry point and are still hiding out elsewhere in your home.
Removing all parts of a termite tube won’t eliminate the threat. Termite tunnels are a common symptom of a much bigger problem.
The best way to address the problem is to call pest control experts no matter if the tubes are dry or wet. Termites will recolonize if you don’t deal with the issue.
Hire Pest Control Services for Termite Tunnels
Although termite tunnels themselves won’t cause significant structural damage to your home, they allow termites to stay alive and wreak havoc.
If you spot any of the four termite tunnel types, you’ve likely had a pest infestation problem for a while.
You can easily break and clean up termite tunnels, but this won’t eradicate the issue. To eliminate the issue completely, hire pest control services.
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