Termite tubes are one of the most obvious signs of a termite infestation in your home. While the insects themselves may be buried too deeply underground or in the structures of the building to be detected by the untrained eye, termite tubes may be clearly seen running along the foundations of your home, the beams of a deck or porch, a window screen or a basement wall. These wood devouring insects construct these passageways in order to make their way from an underground colony into a house, where they feed on wood containing structures.
As soon as you see mud tubes around your home’s exterior, call a professional pest control service for an inspection or purchase termite treatments. Termites can cause expensive damage to a home, and the sooner the infestation is identified and treated, the more likely you are to avoid costly repairs. While there are many do it yourself termite treatments available to homeowners, professionals have an extensive knowledge of the most effective ways to locate and eradicate termite colonies in or around your house.
Features of Mud Tubes
A termite tube is constructed by worker members of a subterranean termite colony using mud, bits of wood and other debris. This passageway may be small and isolated to a specific area, or large and extensive, spreading across a large segment of a wall or a home’s foundation. The tube is usually erratically shaped, branching in more than one direction. Multiple passageways may combine to form a large, nest-like structure.
The purpose of termite tubes is to protect the colony members as they travel back and forth from the soil to the house. Termite colonies include large numbers of workers, whose job is to forage for wood containing food sources in order to feed the larval insects. As they roam across a property, workers build termite tubes so that they can travel longer distances while avoiding exposure to heat and light. These underground insects cannot survive under prolonged exposure to sunlight.
Active termite tubes can be very busy, as workers travel back and forth on their foraging expeditions. If you break one of these tubes, you may see the insects themselves. Other tubes may be inactive or abandoned. These pests are capable of repairing damaged or abandoned tubes, if necessary.
While termite tubes are found at ground level in crawl spaces or along the foundation of a house, some tubes are found at higher levels of your home. If you see mud tunnels running along the ceilings of your home, you may have a secondary colony inside the house. Primary colonization by subterranean termites takes place in the soil around the perimeter of the home, but a secondary colonization may occur inside the structures of your building.
Termite tubes are not the only sign of an infestation. In the warm months of spring or early summer, reproductive members of the colony leave the nest to form new colonies. The reproductive members, also known as alates, develop wings, which enable them to fly around the property in search of mates. If you see these insects swarming around porch lights or illuminated windows at night, it’s likely that the pests have invaded your house. Discarded piles of wings inside your home are another strong indication of an infestation.
Piles of small, black or white pellets in your house are a sign of pest activity. These pellets, or droppings, along baseboards suggest that the insects have actually invaded the home. You may also see tiny kick out holes where the pests have pushed their droppings through wooden structures. Dry wood species are more likely to indicate their presence through kick out holes and fecal pellets than through mud tunnels, as they do not form colonies underground.
If a licensed inspector confirms that you have an infestation, there are a number of effective treatment options to choose from. Liquid termiticides may be injected into the soil around the residence to form a chemical barrier that blocks entry into your home and kills foraging workers. In conjunction with liquid treatments, metal barriers may be placed around the foundation of a house. Baits may be used to gradually poison the colony members that survive the initial chemical treatments.
By learning to recognize termite tubes and other signs of activity, you may prevent thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home. Professional extermination is the most effective way to eliminate these pests from your property over the long term. Look for a licensed company with a strong reputation for long term treatment of these pests. For an additional charge, many companies will provide a bond, or a legal agreement to retreat or repair your house if reinfestation occurs. As soon as you see termite tubes, contact a dependable team.