“One of a homeowners worse nightmares is seeing termite tubes along their stem wall.”
One of the more obvious signs of infestation is seeing termite tubes winding up the outside or inside of a foundation footer or hanging from the ceiling inside a home. This is often the first hint that these critters are eating away at a home and the need for a professional exterminator.
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Termite tubes can be referred to as shelter and/or mud tubes or dirt strings. To the average consumer a termite is a termite and they are all the same. Unfortunately this is less than accurate. Not all termites are the same. Arizona is home to at least 17 unique types of termites including some of the most destructive species found in North America. Consumers should be aware that not all termites build or use shelter tubes as a means of infesting a home.
Simply walking around a home and looking for these distinctive mud tubes is not the best way to ensure a home is not under attack. Homeowners who suspect they might have a problem should call a professional exterminator familiar with all types of termites found in Arizona. A professional termite exterminator can spot the subtle signs of infestation other than the tell-tale termite tubes.
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Additionally, a professional termite exterminator can properly identify the invading species often based upon the type of termite tube(s) present. This is important as effective elimination and prolonged protection requires treatment specific to the target species. In other words a generic treatment can be a waste of money and needlessly expose a household to harsh chemicals. Effective control and long term protection requires proper identification of the target species.
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Mud tubes are built to protect the workers from low-moisture conditions and predators such as ants. Shelter tubes can be one of three types:
- Exploratory tubes. These tubes generally are narrow, multi-branched and fragile. Exploratory tubes are often abandoned at short distances when no food source is located. It’s not uncommon to see a series of these tubes within short distances of each other.
- Working tubes. These tubes are built to provide a sheltered avenue for termites as they move from the ground to and from a food source. Larger colonies may have multiple tubes overlapping.
- Free Standing tubes. These tubes are free-standing, thick and are constructed between the food source and the ground. Drop tubes look somewhat like suspended calcium deposits that hang from the ceiling of a cave.
- Drop tubes. They are small in diameter, round and usually dangle from a ceiling. These tubes are an indication that the invading species is Heterotermes.
Worker termites make mud tubes by mixing fecal matter with soil. In addition to mud tube construction, they also maintain and repair mud tubes that are damaged for one reason or another. Darker colored shelter tubes are an indication of a fresh tube or the presence of moisture. As tubes age the soil tends to dry out and appear lighter in color. Old tubes will appear light in color and brittle to the touch.
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Do not ignore signs of infestation such as shelter tubes. While a tube may appear “older” and “inactive,” generally speaking termites do not just go away. They will move to areas that provide better opportunities for food and moisture. Consumers are best served with a proper termite service in response to the present of termite mud tubes. Ignoring evidence of infestation can lead to hidden damage and expensive repair costs.
Bills Termite Control is your hometown Arizona exterminator providing safe, effective exterminator services at affordable rates. We are the experts that other exterminators call upon when dealing with difficult Arizona pests. For more information about termite tubes give us a call today. Better yet call us for a free inspection of your home. We can detect the presence of these critters, identify conditions conducive to future infestation and give you peace of mind.
I found termite tubes outside my home
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Selena D via Kudzu
Saw what I later learned were termite tubes outside our home. Called Bill’s Termite and Lisa came out the next day for a free inspection. Our home was serviced a few days later and the tubes have not come back. Lisa was nice and knows termites. Micheal did a good job servicing and left little trace that he was there. This was my first experience with termites and I’m glad we picked Bill’s Termite.
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Great experience with Bill's Pest. The termites are gone and my house is still standing.