If you are noticing small dirt-like tunnels around your home it could be an indication of a growing, or serious, termite problem. Though termites leave few signs of their presence until extensive damage has been done, the presence of termite tubes is a tale-tell sign your home may be at risk. Often these tubes resemble mud, however, they are actually a mixture of feces, saliva and soil.
Subterranean termites have to make their way from below ground and up the foundation of a home before they discover wood materials that they can consume. To ensure their safety from potential predators, as well as exposure to light, termites will create these protective tunnels along the insides of walls and concrete or stone foundations.
When searching for termite tubes there are three different types that you may find around your home. These distinct termite tube types each serve a specific purpose for members of the colony and can be identified by their placement in relation to the termite colony. The three types of termite tubes are:
- Working Tube – This type of termite tube is constructed as a path between the termite nest in the soil to reach wooden structures. It is not uncommon for this type to be constructed along concrete or stone foundations.
- Drop Tube – When finding a drop tube, homeowners will often confuse them for a stalactite-like mud tunnel. Drop tubes will often extend from wood structures directly back to the soil.
- Exploratory Tube – An exploratory tube will often rise from the soil without connecting to a wood structure. These tubes function as a migratory path or exploration source for finding new wood sources for consumption.
It is possible that you may have termite tubes that are currently inactive. However, this doesn’t mean that the termites aren’t still active in your home. In most cases, they likely have just moved on to another part of the structure. To test for termites, homeowners can break the center of one of these tubes. If there are visible termites, or the tube is repaired within days, then the tube is still active.