All three groups of termites, subterranean, drywood, and dampwood, keep secretive habitats that are well concealed beneath soil and/or wood. Subterranean termites almost always nest within soil, but they construct mud tunnels that allow them to access the structural wood within homes. These termites construct mud tunnels in order to avoid the harsh climate, and to allow them easy access between the cellulose within wood, and water within soil. Unlike subterranean termites, drywood and dampwood species do not dwell naturally within soil; instead, these termites maintain a constant habitat within single and interconnected wood items, such as logs, trees, and structural wood within homes. Considering their well-hidden habitat, termites virtually never become visible to humans, with the exception of reproductive winged termites (alates) that swarm at certain times during the year. However, Texas happens to be one of very few states where a particular termite species can be found crawling above ground where it feeds on living and dry grasses and a variety of green plant species. This species is officially known as Gnathamitermes tubiformans, but they are more commonly known as “desert termites” or “woodlice.” These termites are most abundant within the arid southwest region of the state. If a Texas resident spots termites within his/her lawn, they are definitely desert termites, and luckily, they do not infest structures.
Desert termites are not considered pests, and therefore, spotting them near a home does not call for professional pest control services. However, the entire state of Texas is located within a geographic area where termite pest activity is most abundant, and the tremendously destructive and invasive Formosan subterranean termite is well established with the southeast to central portion of the state. If subterranean mud tunnels are found along the foundation of a home, then damaging subterranean termites have almost certainly established an infestation. Sometimes, old mud tunnels can be found on homes where termite infestations are no longer active, but mud tunnels degrade rapidly when they are not maintained by the insects. Treating termite infestations requires a particular license to handle certain termiticides, making an effective DIY pest treatment next to impossible.
Have you ever found subterranean termite mud tunnels along the foundation of a home?