September 27, 2022
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Termites are silent destroyers. They can cause significant structural damage to your home, especially if they go unnoticed. Fortunately, you can detect and eliminate them before they wreak havoc by actively looking out for signs of termites, such as termite mud tubes. These tunnels can sometimes be seen around you property as an indicator that you’re dealing with a termite problem. Read on to learn more.
What are termite mud tubes?
Termite mud tubes are small, tunnel-like structures that are made by subterranean termites. They’re irregular in shape and made from wood matter, dirt, faeces and saliva. You’ll often see them outside or inside your home.
Termite mud tubes protect termites from predators and from drying out (as subterranean termites need moisture to survive) as they travel between a food source and the nest.
Do termite tubes mean you have termites?
Yes, termite mud tunnels are one of the first signs of a termite infestation. If you find them in your home, you should contact your local pest control company immediately.
What do termite mud tunnels look like?
There are four types of termite mud tunnels that you may find on your property.
1. Exploratory tunnels
Exploratory tunnels are fragile and thin. You can easily spot them because they branch out in several directions. A tunnel can go up to 4.5m above the ground when built over metal or concrete. Usually empty, exploratory tunnels do not connect to wooden material. Since they are mostly uninhabited, they indicate that termites have relocated to other parts of your home searching for food.
2. Working tunnels
Also referred to as utility tunnels, working tunnels are mainly used by termites to move from the nest to a source of food. These termite mud tunnels are loosely organised, with some lanes for food transportation and others for construction and repair works. Working tunnels are more long-lasting than exploratory tunnels. They also help termites travel longer distances along building foundations and basement walls.
3. Swarm tubes
Termites build swarm tubes, also known as swarm castles, to protect flying termites as they leave the colony. These termite mud tubes can be quite large, measuring almost 1.5 in width. Before leaving the nest, swarmers gather in a location that is both smooth and free of debris. When the time to depart arrives, worker termites direct the swarmers to the protective swarm castles.
4. Drop tubes
Drop tubes are the easiest tunnels to spot as they resemble stalagmites in caves. The tubes are built towards the ground, hanging from a wood support. They make it easy for worker termites to acquire food by acting as expressways between the food source (high point) and the nesting place (low point). Termite drop tubes feature more wood fibres than working tunnels and exploratory tunnels.
Should you destroy termite mud tubes?
No! When you first spot a termite mud tube, you can try breaking a small part of it using a gloved hand or a pointed stick to see if there are termites present. If there are active termites inside the tunnel, they will reseal the opening. If no resealing happens, it indicates that the residents have relocated. But don’t completely destroy the tunnel, as your pest control technician will want to look at it while doing a termite inspection.
Pest Aid is here to help
Found termite mud tunnels on your property? Our experienced and friendly termite control team is here to help. We’ll conduct a thorough inspection of your property to confirm you have a termite infestation, and then we’ll create a treatment plan for you. Get a quick quote or book an inspection online today.