COULD THESE MUD TUBES BE FROM TERMITES?
By Chris Williams on April 20, 2017.
When I was down in our crawlspace over the weekend I saw some mud tubes or tunnels on the cinderblock wall. They seemed to end at the floor joists. I broke one open but didn’t see anything inside. I’m worried that these have something to do with termites. Can you put my mind at ease? G. A., North Andover, MA
I’m afraid putting your mind at ease is going to require a termite inspection by a pest control professional. What you describe does sound like subterranean termite tubes (see What Do Termite Tubes Look Like?). The tubes may still be in use, or abandoned. Termites may have moved into wood in your home, or not. An inspection by our termite specialists can answer these questions. It will be important to know whether the tubes are recent or very old, whether your home has had a recent termite treatment, and whether you have had any instances of leaks or water damage.
WHY DO TERMITES MAKE TUBES?
Termites construct “mud” tubes in situations where they have to leave the soil to reach wood. Because termites are soft-bodied, require high moisture, and are susceptible to predators, they don’t travel out in the open. They build the tubes of a combination of soil, saliva, and fecal matter and travel inside their protection. Some tubes are exploratory and may be quickly abandoned. If the termites find a good wood source, exploratory tubes may be reinforced to become working tubes as termites travel from their ground colony to feed on the wood.
Unless the tubes are very old and your home has had a termite treatment in the meantime, you probably will want to take some kind of protective action. Even if the tubes are not active now, they’re an indication that termites have access to your home and can move in at any time.
MAKE SURE YOU’RE NOT INVITING TERMITES
Termites are always foraging and exploring, looking for wood sources. They move randomly until they find conditions that tell them that they are near potential food. There are many things around the average home that can attract termites (see Termites Are Attracted by Certain Conditions). The main draw is wood on or around your home that is in direct contact with soil. Another is wood that is damp or water-damaged. Sometimes even if your home has been treated, certain conditions can allow termites to bypass that soil treatment.
Take a walk around your home looking for termite-conducive conditions. Here are some tips: Hey Massachusetts! – Here’s a Termite Checklist for Your Home. And give Colonial Pest a call today to arrange for a professional termite inspection. Don’t delay!
Credit: U.S. Marine Corps, Sgt. J. Shemanski