A Mud Fortress

Kids love to build things when they play in the mud, so why shouldn’t termites?  Termites have a good reason to construct mud tubes, though.  These tunnels are there for their protection.  They protect termites from low humidity, extreme temperatures and are a huge source of protection from their enemies.  The size of the tubes will range from about ¼”–1” in diameter and are used by the termites to traverse from the ground to their food source.  Subterranean termites differ from drywood termites in that the drywood termite will expel their fecal matter and wood particles, but the subterranean termite will put it to use along with sand and soil particles to produce a strong, plaster-like material for building these earth-colored tunnels.

When you see new mud tubes, you know that there are termites present.  Yearly inspections of your home make it possible to locate the problem area quickly.  Examination of your home should include inside and outside of the foundation, cracks that appear in your concrete floor, and especially places where pipes go through the concrete slab of your home.  Termites love these spaces because they can enter undetected, especially if you do not have a regular, yearly inspection.

You may need to acquaint yourself with the different types of mud tubes that could be found at your home.  The first tube is a working tube which will go from the ground, along the concrete or stone and up to a wood surface.  These are especially helpful in locating termites, because they originate in the nest underground.  The second type of tube is the exploratory and migratory tube.  These, too, come from the ground, but they do not attach to any wood.  The last type is a drop tube.  These extend from a wooden structure down to the ground.  They may also be found inside the home on a ceiling.


Keeping your eyes open for possible activity will go a long way in helping you protect possibly your biggest investment!  I love the old African Proverb that says small termites collapse the roof.  Knowing what to look for and being pro-active is the   key to limiting termite activity.

Next time we’ll discuss damage and how you can prevent termites from looking at your home like a smorgasbord.

The above information was derived from the text Secrets to a Pest Free Home by Richard C. Burton.   ©2003
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