Termite Tunnels in Wood

Termite treatment becomes a priority throughout the spring and summer when the weather conditions turn conducive for termite activity. Tunnels created by termites inside walls, wood, and ceilings are one of the most obvious signs of an infestation. Learn how they form and how to prevent them.

Termites are tiny insects notorious for chewing their way through wooden materials. Termites are classified into three categories based on their habitats: underground, damp wood, and dry wood. The subterranean kind lives in enormous underground colonies, whereas dry wood and damp wood termites live above ground and feed on dry and damp wood, respectively.

Most termites travel through tubes or tunnels to access food sources. If you see signs of infestation, such as termite tunnels on the ceiling, walls, or wood, schedule an inspection with a termite control professional to determine the type of termite, the extent of the infestation, and treatment options.

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Why do termites build tunnels?

Termites construct tunnels for many reasons, depending on the species and their habitat. Of course, the primary purpose of tunnels is to find food. Termites often consume wood from the inside out, eventually resulting in a hollow piece of wood. When you hit the wood with extensive termite damage, it will produce a hollow sound. Termite early warning indicators can be observed or heard on ceilings, walls, exposed beams, windows, and other typical locations for termite tunnels.

Tunnels also provide protection. Termites, particularly subterranean termites, depend on moisture to live, so they construct tunnels to provide a stable habitat for their family. The tunnels also protect them from harsh temperatures, dry air, excess moisture, and predators.

Tunnels also aid in the expansion of colonies. When termite colonies expand, they require additional space to support their growing population. Tunnels allow the pests to extend their turf and link various parts of their habitat.

How do termites build their tunnels?

Termite tunnels result from the combined efforts of several individual termites in a colony. Subterranean termites construct their tunnels from soil, wood, saliva, and feces. They begin by digging a tunnel in the dirt or wood, then fortify the ceilings and walls using a soil-saliva mixture.

The saliva acts as a binding agent, allowing dirt particles to adhere to one another, resulting in a solid structure. As they dig farther down the tunnel, they build a network of interconnecting tubes and chambers. Infestation can occur in any wood that comes into contact with the ground. These termites can also build shelter tunnels between cracks in foundations and concrete walls.

In contrast, dry wood termites don’t require mud tunnels. They simply create wood tunnels as they consume their way through the soft core of the wood. They make a little hole in the wood to push their excrement out of the tunnels. It’s called frass and often accumulates on the floor beneath the infested wood. It resembles sawdust at a distance, but close examination reveals granular particles of varied colors.

Eventually, termite tunnels, whether subterranean or galleries become complex and large systems. In any event, the sight of termite tubes is a cause for concern. Knowing what to look for will help safeguard your property from these atrocious insects.

How do you know if termite tubes are active?

Termite tunnels on walls, ceilings, wood, or subfloors may be empty when you find them. However, this does not indicate that the insects have departed. They can just be chilling in a different part of your property. Even if you can’t see them swarming around your windows and dropping wings and feces, there are other ways to tell if termite tubes are active:

Look for fresh tunnels.

Determine how old the termite tunnel is and also check for the presence of moisture. If the termite tunnels appear fresh and moist, this indicates that they are actively in use. On the other hand, if they’re old and dried, they could be from an earlier infestation that was treated.

Look for eggs.

If you crack open a termite tube and see termite eggs within, this indicates that the termites are still active. After all, the eggs will eventually hatch into larvae, and soon they’ll start moving about looking for food.

Monitor the tubes.

Tape over the termite tunnel and check again after a couple of days to see whether the tape has been disturbed. If you find the tape loosened or removed, it is a sign that termites are still using the tube to move and locate food sources.

What do you do with a termite tunnel?

Whenever you discover a termite tube in your property or home, you must act quickly to prevent more termite damage. Here are steps you may take to prevent termite activity.

Identify the source and extent of the infestation.

Start by identifying the extent of the termite tunnel and whether other portions of your property have been compromised. You can choose the best course of action based on the inspection findings. Termite tunnels are complex and large networks comprised of interconnected chambers. A termite control technician will evaluate your property thoroughly to assess the extent of the termite colony and recommend appropriate treatment options.

Eliminate the termites.

The pest control professional will recommend appropriate treatment solutions depending on the type of termites and colony size. Common termite control methods include bait stations, liquid treatments, and tenting techniques.

Baiting entails strategically placing bait stations throughout a property. Bait stations feature a slow-acting toxin that termites feed on and spread back to their nest, killing them. On the other hand, liquid solutions are chemical substances that are introduced to the ground around a property. The chemicals seep into the soil, preventing termites from entering your home.

Large populations of damp and dry wood termites often require tenting techniques. These entail sealing off the infested structure and infusing a treatment such as a fumigant or heat. A fumigant is usually a gas that is toxic to termites, while heating entails raising the temperature of the structure to a level inhospitable for the termites.

Heat treatment is an excellent substitute for fumigation. It’s an excellent option if you have a compromised immune system, are chemically sensitive, have asthma, or are simply concerned about chemicals. You won’t even have to leave your house during the heating treatment. However, it may cost you a lot of money, especially if you have to treat a large structure.

Remove moisture

Termites require moisture to survive, so eliminating moisture sources can help discourage their activity. Moisture removal may entail repairing leaks or flood damage, providing enough ventilation, or even installing a dehumidifier in moist locations. You should ensure that the landscaping slopes away from the base of the house.


After exterminating the termites, any damage will need to be repaired. This may include replacing affected drywall, ceiling, floor, or wood and sealing any holes or gaps through which the termites may have burrowed. Repairing minor termite damage might cost between $250 and $1000. On the other hand, extensive damages that require major structural renovations can cost between $1500 and $6000. Therefore, acting early before termite activity worsens is always wise.

Prevent future infestations.

The best way to avoid termite infestations is through prevention. You can take steps to keep out termites and prevent future infestations. Here’s a breakdown:

● Using proper drainage to minimize moisture in the soil around your home’s foundation

● Fixing holes or gaps in your home’s foundation will prevent termite entry.

● Eliminating wood-to-soil contact, as this might provide termites with a direct path into your property.

● Keeping your gutters clean is important since clogged gutters can encourage water to pool near your home’s foundation.

● Avoiding overwatering in your lawn and garden

● Using termite-resistant materials when building your home, certain trees, such as redwood and cedar, are naturally termite-repellent. If youmust place wood at ground level; these two types of wood are the best options.

● Remove shrubs, trees, and other plants around your home and foundation.

● Ensuring proper ventilation, especially in attics and crawl spaces

● Performing frequent inspections to detect termite infestations early and take care of them


Termite tunnels and tubes prove that your home has a termite infestation. The infestation could have been there for days before the insects drilled the tunnels. If you see termite tunnels on the ceiling, drywall, or floor of your home, contact us for termite inspection and control services. We are California termite control experts with over three decades of experience in eliminating wood-destroying organisms and pests. Our technicians are qualified to treat any existing termite concerns in a home and develop measures to prevent future infestations. We can help secure your house with a plan tailored to your specific needs using a customized termite treatment and control approach.

Don’t allow the little terrorists to chew your house down; learn how to spot termite activity and protect your property. Contact us to arrange for a termite inspection and treatment. We also offer wood rot and repair services to help restore your structure to decent condition. Our services carry extensive warranties to provide peace of mind.

Experienced Termite Damage Repair Contractors

Experienced Termite Damage Repair Contractors

Experienced Termite Damage Repair Contractors San Clemente, Dana Point, San Juan Capistrano, Aliso Viejo, Laguna Niguel, Mission Viejo, Laguna Hills, Irvine, Rancho Santa Margarita, Ladera Ranch, Lake Forest, Coto de Caza, Laguna Beach, Newport Beach If you realize...

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Questions other  homeowners have asked Termite Fumigation:

how to prepare for termite tenting

Please watch the video below to help you understand the process.  Feel free to call to schedule an appointment!

Questions other  homeowners have asked Termite Fumigation:

How long does termite tenting last

Typically it will take three full days to kill all termites.  We will walk you through the process to ensure all safety steps are completed.  See your tent fumigation list.

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