Termite Shelter Tubes

You may have seen them before, especially if you have had termites, they are little paths of what looks like dirt. These little tunnels are called Termite Shelter Tubes and they are created by Subterranean Termites. Because these termites need a moist environment, they build tunnel tubes to protect them from weather and predators as they forage for food. These tubes are made out of saliva, mud, wood, drywall and feces.

termite-trail-fbWhen a homeowner or a pest control company encounters Termite Shelter Tubes, it is a big red flag that the property has termites. The tubes are generally found along the external walls of a home or crawl space and even along internal walls. These tubes are actually used for a variety of purposes that include the following:

  • Working Tubes
  • Exploratory Tubes
  • Drop Tubes
  • Flight Slits or Swarming Tubes

The Working Tubes connect the termite nest to a wooden structure. These tubes become an important termite highway because they lead from a food source to the nest. These tubes can be connected to concrete and stone foundations.

Exploratory Tubes originate from the soil but do not typically connect to a wood structure. They are temporary protection tubes for termite workers foraging for food. If the workers find a good food source, they will re-build or improve the exploratory tube as a permanent working tube.

Drop Tubes are the termite shelter tube additions. They are lighter in color than working tubes because they are actually constructed using more of the wood from the structure they are now living in rather than from the soil. These shelter tubes drop down from the structure wood to the soil.

Flights Slits or Swarming Tubes are a seasonal item built for a very specific purpose. They allow for the termites with wings to exit the old nest in search of a new nest location. These swarming tubes extend about four to eight inches above ground.

It is important to check around your home especially near the slab. If you see one of these Termite Shelter Tubes, it is time to call Terminix.