Subterranean termites cannot live without high levels of moisture, which means that they will dehydrate to death by simply being out in the open air. This is why they build mud tubes which connect their colony to infested wood, if they cannot reach the wood directly from the ground. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at these mud tubes.
The different types of mud tubes
Subterranean termites will build mud tubes differently depending on their purpose. You have exploratory, working, swarm and drop tubes.
Exploratory tubes are thin and they are not very sturdy, but their purpose is to discover new food sources. As such, the termites will build several of them branching out in different directions. Once the termites are done with the exploratory work, these tubes are abandoned and they will never be used again.
When a food source is found, the termites will start building working tubes between them and the colony. These tubes can transport up to thousands of termites on a daily basis, and they are organized in lanes, with some lanes being used to carry food, while others are used by builders who travel them in order to complete construction or repairs. Working tubes will usually be between a quarter and one inch wide and they are built to last.
Swarm tubes, or swarming castles, are structures that are designed to help swarmers leave the colony safely. When reproductives start to swarm, they can become very chaotic, and since they are quite fragile, it is not uncommon for them to get hurt if they are not guided properly by the workers. So workers build a swarming castle, which is a large structure that can be four feet wide or more, with a smooth surface and several exit holes through which to channel the throngs of swarmers.
Drop tubes are the most noticeable structures of the colony. They are built to connect wood to the ground when there is no other structural support, such as a foundation wall. They look like stalagmites and they are light in coloration.
If you notice any of these tubes on or inside your home, you can be 100% certain that you have a termite infestation. In this situation, give us a call, and we will come over and remove the infestation for you.