3 Things Exterminators Check During Termite Inspections

termite inspection

Mud Tubes 

Mud tubes (or “shelter” tubes, as they are also known) are one way for either you or an exterminator to determine whether there are termites on the property.While there are three different types of termite, the most common kind is the subterranean termite, which survives best underground.  While termites will simply eat their way through any material they can, for metal and other materials which withstand this, they build mud tubes over the top.  This is what causes the mud tubes, as the termites construct them to keep safe while moving to new feeding grounds.

There are three types of tube:

Exploratory Tubes: These tubes are made by termites exploring their surroundings in search of either food or a new home.  They are generally long, multi-branched and fairly fragile looking.  While abandoned mud tubes can serve as a sign that any termite colonies which were in the area are empty, they may also have been abandoned simply because they do not lead to a food source, or the colony has been disturbed in someway. 

Working Tubes: These tubes are formed from exploratory tubes; they form covered highways from their colonies to an established source of food, widening and strengthening the tunnels as they go.  Rather than specifically widening the tunnels for use as a permanent highway, they are naturally widened as more and more termites use them to move to and from the food source and the colony. 

Drop Tubes: These are freestanding tubes which look something like the stalactites which form in caves.  They have the same purpose as working tubes and exploratory tubes in that they provide tunnels for the termites to traverse between a food source and their colony.  Since tubes are essentially protective coverings that termites build over and around material they can’t eat, drop tubes are how the colony handles open space between them and a food source. 

Mud in Joints and Joists 

Termites are builders before they are anything else.  The previous section showed that they protect themselves by building covered highways to and from food sources.  When looking for evidence of termite infestation, exterminators will check joists, sheetrock and concrete for mud.  This is because termites will fill in any crack and corners which are exposed to the outside air, to better protect themselves. 

Wood Damage

While termite control aims to find and exterminate termites before the damage that they can inflict becomes too severe, wood damage is something that exterminators will check for if you think there are termites on your property.

Wood damage can take several forms: if it is extensive, then you may see parallel groves and little patches of mud inside the wood.  This is because termites prefer soft food to hard food, and so will go for the younger wood over the older.  Before the infestation progresses so far, however, signs of termites include the mud tubes discussed above as well as patches of mud in any cracks or crannies which would expose the termites to open air.

Termites eat wood away from the inside out, so if the wood looks visibly damaged, it is normally an indication that the structure has been contaminated beyond repair.  While this in turn makes it difficult for exterminators to determine whether or not a structurer is infested, someone with a lot of experience in working with termites may be able to hear a flat sound which indicates termite infestation.