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What are Termite Tunnels?

According to termite research shared by Science Daily, functioning termite mounds and the associated network of termite tunnels have been found that cover the approximate area of a small country and have been in use for close to 4,000 years. While it is easy to admire the intricacy and longevity of these insects’ constructions, property owners hope never to discover any evidence of termite tunnels. Consequently, it is important to know how to identify and respond to the presence of termite tunnels, including the engagement of termite specialists to address and eradicate any termite issues on your property.

What Do Termite Tunnels Look Like?

The appearance of termite tunnels can vary slightly depending on the type of termite and materials used to form the tunnel. For example, subterranean termite tunnels are made of soil, saliva, and fecal matter. With this constitution, tubes look brown or muddy in color. On the other hand, drywood termites create tunnels in the wood itself, so their tunnels often look like carvings or layering in the wood. Additionally, there is suspicion of a termite problem, mud tubes may appear in your yard. Termite mud tubes may look like tunnels, but are generally the width of a pinky, appear in shades of brown and orange and may extend several inches or feet. While mud tubes may be slightly more visible, they provide the same function as termite tunnels.

What Are the Functions of Termite Tunnels?

Termite tunnels serve many functions in a termite colony, although the look, constitution, and length varies by species and environment. Termite tunnels are often used for the following activities:

  • Accessing food without being exposed to the elements, which may lead to their deaths, or other dangers like predators
  • Controlling their environment, specifically the temperature, ventilation, and humidity of their surroundings
  • Optimizing their nests to promote colony survival and growth
  • Traveling safely
  • Protecting themselves

Understanding what tunnels are used for might help you think of other areas to inspect on your property.

Where Can Termite Tunnels Be Located?

The locations of termite tunnels vary according to the environment in which the termites are present and the specific type of termite. Homeowners should pay close attention to the following potential termite tunnel locations, since the presence of tunnels typically reveals a termite infestation on the property.

  • Explore the foundations of any buildings, as well as basements. Termites can enter through cracks in these structures, so tunnels may lead from outside food sources to inside locations with environments suitable for colony establishment or between individual food sources within the home.
  • Be vigilant about attics or crawl spaces, especially those that may be moist or constructed from wood or other appealing material. This environment and potentially available food sources may be of interest to termites.
  • Monitor exterior food sources, such as fences, piles of logs, sheds, and even garden bed perimeters. Tunnels may be visible right on the surface of these structures and in other less visible locations.

If you find other signs of termite damage like wood that sounds hollow, bubbles in wallpaper, detached wings, or defecation, these additional and often hidden termite tunnels spots may be in use:

  • Termite tunnels inside walls
  • Underground termite tunnels
  • Tunnels in trees or other decaying wood material

Finally, when looking for termite tunnels, start with what attracts termites because generally, these pests are likely looking for food. Termites are typically attracted to rotting wood and damp soil, so inspect your property for some of the following:

  • Rotting or decaying wood or other plant-based materials, as well as plastic
  • Airflow or drainage issues
  • Wood piles and mulch close to the building’s foundation, as well as clogged gutters
  • Tree proximity to home, especially dead trees
  • Untreated wood
  • Cracks in foundation or other entry points, like unsealed holes or aged caulking

What are some Dos and Don’ts After Finding Termite Tunnels?

Many indicators that point to termites may seem similar to other pests or general wear and tear in the home. However, termite tunnels are a fairly distinctive marker, specific to this particular pest. Some immediate actions may come to mind, but carefully considering next steps is essential for ensuring the most expedient resolution to any termite issues.

  • DO NOT disturb, smash, or otherwise give in to any desire to destroy the termite tunnels. Although this action may seem like an easy way to solve the problem (and find some stress relief), it may actually make it harder for termite professionals to determine the source of the termite problem and the necessary treatment approach.
  • DO document your findings! Take precise written notes, pictures, or videos and give them to the termite experts. This information can help them identify the termite type and effectively plan for treatment in addition to their own assessment.
  • DO NOT ignore the problem or try to treat the termite problem by using general insecticide treatments or other remedies. Understandably, hoping the issue will resolve itself or executing immediate treatment may reduce anxiety now. Unfortunately, using these pesticides or DIY methods may endanger human and pet residents, temporarily deter but not resolve the termite issue, ultimately waste time and money on ineffective methods, or allow the infestation and associated property damage to increase.
  • DO research licensed pest professionals to find a company with the expertise to help you with both current solutions and preventative care. Clearly, you not only want to resolve the ongoing infestation associated with the presence of termite tunnels but also address any underlying water damage, rotting wood, or other structural or environmental concerns that made your location particularly appealing to pests.

Finding termite tunnels is an unpleasant experience and causes significant concern about the safety of your property and its inhabitants. Scheduling routine inspections, implementing recommendations for preventative care, and quick contact when a pest problem arises can all contribute to reducing the damage and expense associated with infestations of termites and other intruders. Eliminate ‘Em is here to help property owners in service areas throughout New England. For expert pest and wildlife control and extermination services, contact us today for a free estimate or immediate service.