These are tell tale signs of a subterranean termite activity. Subterranean termites make their way into your home from below ground and moving up your foundation until they reach wood material they can eat. From the point where they leave the ground until they reach the wood portion of your home they will usually create a protective mud-like tunnel to shield them from light as well as predators.
They look like mud but are actually made up of a mixture of feces, saliva, and soil.
There are three main types of tubes termite makes:
1. Working Tubes
2. Exploratory Tubes
3. Drop Tubes
What Do Termite Tubes Look Like?
Termite tubes look like pencil width sized tubes of mud spreading in irregular patterns from the soil upward toward the wooden portions of a building. Here is a picture to give you an idea of what they look like…
And a video for even better identification of mud tubes…
Why Do Termites Make Mud Tubes?
Subterranean termites (the species that makes mud tubes) build their nest in the soil relatively close to their food source (cellulose material).
Where Should I Look For Tubes Around My House?
What Should I do If I Find Termite Mud Tunnels Around My Home?
If you find termite mud tunnels on or neary your home you should really call a pest control professional. Termite infestations are very difficult to treat yourself but do a bit of diagnosis on your own.
You can remove a portion of the tunnel and see if there are still termites inside. If you see some termites moving back and forth in there or scrambling to begin repairing the tunnel, you likely have an active infestation. If you check back in a few days and the tunnel is repaired then it is likely the termite colony is quite strong.
If you break open the tubes and the mud is dry and crumbles away then the termites have likely abandoned those specific tubes. However, that does not mean that they did not alreay establish other routes into your home. So either way, finding old termite mud tubes or active tubes, it is still a good idea to call a termite exterminator to come take a closer look. They have tools, techniques, and the experience to find termites even within the wood of walls, rafter, floors, and other places that would be nearly impossible for you to find.
Also keep in mind that just because you do not see any mud tunnels on the exterior of a building does not mean termites are not present. Termites often find paths to wooden portions of a house via cracks or small holes in foundations, brick or exteriors, concrete stairs, or patios. They are also known to make their way from the ground under a porch or patio or deck to the lumber above.
If I Remove the Tubes From my Foundation Will the Termites Leave?
Removing termite tubes from your foundation may slow down their entry and exit from your home, but it will not likely stop them. More than likely, they'll just build new ones. There's nothing wrong with breaking a section of termite tubes open to see if there are any termites crawling inside, but I wouldn't recommend tearing all the tubes down because they can be a useful for a termite control professional in diagnosing the entry points into your home or business.
How Can I Make Termites Leave My Home and Stop Making Termite Tubes?
That's a tricky question. It depends on the species of termite, how established the infestation is, what type of building you're dealing with, and many other factors. On a very basic level though, there are spot treatments (least extensive) and fumigations (very extensive treatment). Other methods of termite treatment like termite baiting, traps, barriers, etc. and more preventative.