Subterranean termites are cryptic creatures, as they dwell entirely beneath the ground or within seemingly sound wood sources. Obviously, this makes subterranean termites difficult to detect within homes when compared to detecting the indoor presence of most other types of insect pests. Many homeowners report termite infestations to pest control companies without ever seeing a single termite specimen within or near their home. This is not surprising considering that subterranean termites rapidly parish when exposed to normal climatic conditions. Instead of relying on termite sightings, the presence of mud tubes along a home’s foundation strongly indicates a past or present infestation. This is well known to many homeowners, but what is not as well known is that subterranean termites construct multiple types of mud tubes in addition to the working mud tubes found on the foundation of homes.
A minority of termite infestations are discovered when swarming termites (alates) emerge within a home, but most alates only swarm from indoor colonies a few times during a short time span lasting one to two months per year. The presence of mud tubes, or shelter tubes, as they are also known, is the most common first sign of a subterranean termite infestation within a home. The mud tubes that many homeowners are aware of are called “working tubes.” These are the mud tubes that subterranean termites construct in order to allow them easy access between the ground soil and structural wood. It is not uncommon to find isolated mud tubes that do not make contact with structural wood. These mud tubes are commonly known as either “exploratory” or “migratory” mud tubes, and they are sometimes found in yards. “Drop tubes” connect structural wood to the ground soil, but these mud tubes only allow for one-way traffic. Lastly, “swarm tubes” are constructed in order to allow winged alates to emerge from indoor colonies. Swarm tubes can be found protruding from structural wood where a termite colony dwells, and swarm tubes have also been found emerging from cracks in concrete slabs. Finding termite mud tubes within or around a home does not necessarily mean that an infestation is active, as mud tubes can remain within inaccessible indoor areas after termites have either vacated or have been eradicated from a property. However, in most cases, contacting a pest control professional when finding mud tubes within or around a home turns out to be a wise economic choice.
Have you ever found termite mud tubes within your home?