Subterranean Termite Mud Tubes

When you live in a home made out of wood, and that’s probably most of us, termites can be your worst nightmare because they chew and digest cellulose material. The two main termite species that we encounter here in Southern California are drywood termites and subterranean termites. Subterranean termites are named as such because the prefix ‘sub means “beneath, below or under” and the suffix ‘terranean’ means “of or relating to the earth”. Subterranean termites live below the soil because they are soft-bodied insects and require moist conditions in order to survive. Subterranean termites build mud tubes out of moist soil and fecal material in order to gain access to wood above-ground.

According to experts, subterranean termites are the most widely distributed termite species and the most destructive termite group in the United States.

Because of the need for moist conditions, it is not uncommon to find subterranean termite mud tubes in humid environments like bathrooms and laundry rooms.

Subterranean Mud Tubes
Subterranean mud tubes are often located near baseboards.

These subterranean termites found the perfect water source behind a bathroom toilet water supply. The mud tubes keep their moist bodies from drying out.

Subterranean Termites Bathroom Water Source
Subterranean termites have found a water source behind a bathroom toilet

These subterranean termites mud tubes were constructed in a laundry room behind the washer. A laundry room provides the right conditions of humidity and moisture perfect for subterranean termite survival.

Subterranean Termites Mud Tubes in a Laundry Room
Subterranean termites construct mud tubes in moist environments, such as this laundry room.

Subterranean Termite Conducive Conditions

While a homeowner cannot always control whether your soil will become infested with subterranean termites, there are some things that you can do to eliminate conditions that are favorable to subterranean termites.

  • Eliminate earth-wood contacts. Do not place wood in direct contact with the soil.
  • Fix plumbing leaks. Wet wood is subject to fungi and can actually attract termites.
  • Wood debris. If you have a raised foundation, do not store cellulose material in your subarea.
  • Improve ventilation. Poor ventilation in subareas should be corrected to avoid creating moist conditions.
  • Remove dense vegetation. Avoid growing vines and trellis up against your home.
  • Reduce excessive use of mulch. Mulch traps moisture and should be used moderately.
  • Divert water away from your home. Ensure that rain gutters and down spouts are diverting water away from your foundation. Sprinklers should be properly timed and directed to avoid over-watering.

Here are some videos on the AmeriGuard Pest Defense YouTube channel of live subterranean termites discovered during termite inspections.