Termite workers are very fragile insects. Whenever they leave their colonies and get out in the open, they are at immediate risk of death by dehydration. This is because they do not have exoskeletons that keep moisture inside their bodies. However, they still need to travel outside the colony sometimes, and this is where the mud tube comes in.
The different types of mud tubes
Termites will use several mud tubes for different purposes. The most common tube is the transport tube, which is about an inch wide and is used by workers to travel to and from a food source. There is also the scouting tube, which is thinner and not very structurally sound. It is only used temporarily by termite scouts as they search for new sources of food. If they find food, they will build a transport tube to it, but if they do not, the scouting tube will be abandoned.
There are also two other less commonly used tubes: the vertical tube and the termite castle. The vertical tube provides passage between two horizontal planes that have no connection between them, such as the top and bottom of a crawl space. The termite castle is more like a mud structure and is a foot wide. It serves as the launching pad for the swarmers of a colony, which are winged reproductive termites that fly out in the thousands to start new nests.
Finding a mud tube in the home
You will usually come across a mud tube near the foundation of the home, or wherever the building comes into contact with the ground. If you spot one of these tubes, do not destroy them. They can provide valuable information during the inspection process and can help determine the right approach to a control effort.
The control procedure itself will likely involve the installation of a chemical barrier, which is an insecticide that is injected into the ground around the home. This will stop an infestation right away and protect your home from future damage, but the termite colony will remain intact. Alternatively, a baiting system can be used to destroy the colony, or both control methods can be used at the same time to provide immediate and long term protection.
For more information about termite mud tubes and how to deal with them, or if you have a termite infestation that needs to be removed, contact us today and one of our team members will help you out.