Clue! Termite Mud TubesMud tubes are termite tunnels that allow them to move from their preferred habitat underground, to the tasty corners of your home. It is literally a shelter tube that they move through that keeps them alive and well, moisturized and hydrated. Termite workers (of course) build these insect elevators, rolling out the red carpet for the rest of the colony to move around more freely. Termite mud tubes are about the size of a pencil, are the color of brown dirty, and can stretch for several feet or more. You may see them as vertical or horizontal dirt tunnels, moving from the ground up along the foundation or basement wall. You may also spot them on a basement wall or crawl space pier – basically anywhere the termites have been forced to rise above the soil level. While these tunnels are not always visible, a canny observer may note them if the timing is right.
The purpose of the tunnel is to lead termite safely to a food source – wood or cellulose material in your home. Mud tubes can protect not only foraging worker termites, but also the soldiers and yearly winged reproductive termites. To compensate for these reproductive termites leaving the colony, the mud tubes will be constructed at nearly twice the width or more, allowing for a mass emergence.
To find out whether the mud tube is active – whether the termites are still using it – just break the tube and see if you have termites inside. They may be milky white workers right on top, making repairs. If you think you have mud tubes and want to check for activity yourself, just be sure to avoid disturbing them too much, or they may leave to another part of the structure.
The next best step is to call us right away for an inspection and a protection plan, because even if you scrape off the tube, chances are the colony is going to keep thriving. Unlike a single spider web, a mud tube isn’t the termite’s home – it’s just a highway. It is one route from their colony nest into your home, sweet, home. Don’t think the work is done with the tube is gone.