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Many homeowners have probably heard and seen a lot about termites. Nearly two out of three properties in the area will suffer the damage giving nightmares to the homeowners. The term “mud-tube” describes common signs associated with termite problems.

With that in mind, this blog will dig in to know more about mud tubes, understand what they mean, and also identify them to minimize the damage.

Let’s dive in!

What are mud tubes?

Subterranean termites build a tunnel-like structure. These mud tubes made out of dirt, wood, and termite saliva and feces, have an uneven shape. They are approximately pencil-sized, ranges from ¼ – 1 inch in diameter.

Purpose of Mud tubes:

Termites must remain in a moist environment as they are susceptible to drying. These creatures will build mud tubes under the soil where they will live and get sources of food. The tunnels also protect them from predators.

Types of Subterranean Termite Mud Tubes:

There are four types of mud tubes used by Subterranean Termites:

  • Exploratory tubes:

Exploratory tubes branch out in multiple directions yet easily visible. They are thin, fragile, and extend up to 15 feet above the ground.

Exploratory mud tubes do not connect any wood. These tubes are abandoned by the homeowners rise from the soil. Although we can see empty mud tubes, they still indicate the termites’ presence.

  • Working tubes:

Working tubes have the most use from termite colonies. The utility tubes transmit termites from nests to their food resources.

These tubes carry food with lanes used for repair and construction. Termites can travel long distances along basement walls. Working mud tubes can last longer than exploratory mud tubes. Sills, subfloors, joists, window frames, and porches are the areas where termites build working mud tubes.

  • Swarm tubes:

Swarm castles build by termites are temporary habitats for termites leaving the colony during the swarm. Swarm castles can be large, around 4 feet wide. Termite swarmers are delicate and subject to damage when exiting the termite colonies. When the time is right, termite swarmers begin to leave the protective castle. They start establishing other colonies.

  • Drop tubes:

The suspended tunnels from wood back to the ground are drop tubes. The purpose of drop tubes is to make accessible food resources and establish a re-connection below. They are like stalagmites in caves which are lighter in color because they contain more wood fibers.

Where are mud tubes found?

Subterranean termites build mud tubes located around:

  • concrete or stone foundations
  • basement walls
  • crawl spaces, subfloors
  • window frames,
  • joists,
  • and more.


Having mud tubes around your home gives the first sign of termite infestation. The mud tubes may be old inactive ones if you find a mud tube after receiving termite treatments. If you find an active termite infestation, you need to call termite control professionals immediately to seek further termite treatments.