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  1. #1
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    Default Free standing termite tubes

    Had a cool one yesterday, and I was just thinking....
    How high can these critters make a tube. This one was about 32" or so.
    I meant the free standing one, not the one along the foundation wall.

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  2. #2
    Jeff Remas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    That is a pretty long one. FYI, they are building them down to the ground from above.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Free standing, or free hanging? Do they actually build them from the ground up?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  4. #4
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    I'm pretty sure they are going from the ground UP.
    Looking at the bottom I can see lots of broken tubes where maybe they didn't make it far, and the tube fell.

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  5. #5
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Upside down swarm tubes. They have been there a long time and the broken tubes are what broke off from above. When ever you see them coming from the floor joists they are always coming from the joist down.

    Those section of joists probably do not have much more than hollow wood left with all the soft veins of wood eaten out.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Great photo Jack. I've seen some other amazing tube shots and they've always left me with the same question. If they are built from the bottom up, then how the hell do they know they are directly beneath a joist?

    It just doesn't seem hit and miss. Even failed tubes seem to line up with joists above. Is there such a thing as a surveyor class of worker termite? Ones with tiny transit levels that give the go ahead to the tube builders?


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    I honestly don't know the answer, but I have seen many tubes in crawlspaces where they come out of the soil for just a few inches.
    I'm NOT a termite inspector - I just photograph them.


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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    .
    I'm NOT a termite inspector -

    I just photograph them.
    .
    .....
    .

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  9. #9
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    They actually go both ways...(see diagram), but a single, connected tube like the photo is most likely a drop tube from the joist down.

    Subterranean termites construct four types of tubes or tunnels.

    Working tubes (left) are constructed from nests in the soil to wooden structures; they may travel up concrete or stone foundations.
    Exploratory and migratory tubes (center) arise from the soil but do not connect to wood structures.
    Drop tubes (right) extend from wooden structures back to the soil.


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  10. #10
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Richard,

    Thank you for that drawing.

    I've NEVER seen those exploratory tubes rising from the ground up for all of the termites I've seen in years past.

    I HAVE seen thousands of drop tubes where they drop (construct) the tube from the wood above to the ground below.

    Jack,

    The broken pieces are likely from tubes breaking and falling as the tube was under construction, the other termites just keep building the tube downward until they either give up and abandon the effort (like drilling for oil and coming up with dry wells, not knowing that you were only feet from hitting pay dirt (or oil).

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  11. #11
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Since I have seen many houses with tubes coming out of the ground, I knew they did that. However when Richard asked how they could go straight up, it made me wonder.
    Thanks Richard for posting the diagram. It makes perfect sense now. Since they come from the ground, I just assumed all the tubes started there. Thinking about it, it makes sense that some don't.
    At any rate, they are pretty cool to find.


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Great pictures. On a concrete floor no less. I wonder if there's a mortar crack between the blocks where they entered the crawlspace? We don't see them getting that agressive up here, maybe cuz there's still plenty of deadfalls out in the bush for them to attack.


  13. #13
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    New load Support tubes to help hold up the house

    Best

    Ron


  14. #14
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    (see diagram)
    Please see more photos and information here: Termite Control - ENT/rsc-20


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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    New load Support tubes to help hold up the house

    Best

    Ron
    Ron,
    I found this active one yesterday running up a pier that may have been adding to the house structure. It was as big around as my fist but only had the one tunnel running in the middle. I have never seen such a massive one as this one before. This is a pic of just a portion I broke off the pier.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Keith View Post
    It was as big around as my fist but only had the one tunnel running in the middle. I have never seen such a massive one as this one before. This is a pic of just a portion I broke off the pier.
    Kent,

    What did that material feel like?

    I'm thinking that might be: Formosan Subterranean Termite

    They have spread out all the way over toward your area: Formosan Termite USA Distribution

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  17. #17
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    It felt like a hard dirt clod. Certainly not like the typical thin mud tube we usually see. I have also heard that they have migrated to this area. I'll be going back to the house next week, I'll catch a few and take a closer look and let you know.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Kent,

    What did that material feel like?

    I'm thinking that might be: Formosan Subterranean Termite

    They have spread out all the way over toward your area: Formosan Termite USA Distribution

    That is my thought as well. It looks like part of what some call a "carton" or nest.

    Scott Patterson, ACI
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott Patterson View Post
    That is my thought as well. It looks like part of what some call a "carton" or nest.
    Exactly.

    Formosan termites as nasty little buggers as there are so many more termites per colony that they can do a whole lot of damage in a very short time as compared to your typical Southeastern subterranean termite.

    If those are Formosan termites, I would get a pest control guy in there pronto and try to determine to what extent they have ALREADY involved the structure.

    They can do a lot of damage in a very short time. I would not want that on my back after finding those - not even being a certified pest control operator, pass that off onto someone with deeper pockets.

    In fact, the state department which regulates you guys as pest control operators may well like to be advised so they can keep tabs on the spread of those little buggers.

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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    My pest man will be treating it next week and the interior wall above the pier had a lot of damage with much of the sheetrock paper eaten off. The customer will have to replace it anyways and should see extent of the damage, I suspect they have been eating at it for a while. When I broke this it open, I expected to see termites pouring out, but was surprised to see them in only the tube through the middle.


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Kent,

    I can guarantee you that is a subterranean termite tunnel. I've seen more than my share over the last 23 yrs. now.

    On some pier and beams I have found some tubes that are big around as my forearm.

    That is a great pic you have there.

    Let this rain clear out and the humidy get high and those swarmers will out in droves. The biggest swarm alway seems to hit the Dallas / Ft. Worth around Easter holiday.

    I usually get 50 calls the day after Easter just for termite swarmes alone.

    That Easter bunny don't just bring eggs.

    rick


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Keith View Post
    My pest man will be treating it next week and the interior wall above the pier had a lot of damage with much of the sheetrock paper eaten off. The customer will have to replace it anyways and should see extent of the damage, I suspect they have been eating at it for a while. When I broke this it open, I expected to see termites pouring out, but was surprised to see them in only the tube through the middle.

    Even more the reason to tell their subterranean termites cause they don't leave the tunnels.

    rick


  23. #23
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Keith View Post
    My pest man will be treating it next week and the interior wall above the pier had a lot of damage with much of the sheetrock paper eaten off. The customer will have to replace it anyways and should see extent of the damage, I suspect they have been eating at it for a while. When I broke this it open, I expected to see termites pouring out, but was surprised to see them in only the tube through the middle.

    If they are Formosan termites, which are subterranean termites, they can, and do, build their nests *IN* the walls, sometimes taking over an entire wall between what were the stud bays (the studs are gone).

    If the wall has not been opened up yet, I would not at all be surprised to have you or whomever opens that wall to find a lot more damage than you are imagining.

    Rick,

    How prevalent are Formosans in your area? Does the state want to know to track where they have spread?

    Did you look at the map I linked to? Are you in or out of the area indicated as known infestations? If out, and especially if way out of that know area, UF would, I am sure, like to know so their researchers can update their information on Formosans.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  24. #24
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    If they are Formosan termites, which are subterranean termites, they can, and do, build their nests *IN* the walls, sometimes taking over an entire wall between what were the stud bays (the studs are gone).

    If the wall has not been opened up yet, I would not at all be surprised to have you or whomever opens that wall to find a lot more damage than you are imagining.

    Rick,

    How prevalent are Formosans in your area? Does the state want to know to track where they have spread?

    Did you look at the map I linked to? Are you in or out of the area indicated as known infestations? If out, and especially if way out of that know area, UF would, I am sure, like to know so their researchers can update their information on Formosans.
    I know where you are coming from but does it really matter. You can only kill them when you find them. For every termite colony one kills there are absolutely countless more colonies out there. If formoson move into an area I guess they move into an area. It is nice to track them but nothing can really be done about it. Out of all the trillions of termites in North Central Texas only a handfull are in homes. The rest are out there happily eating at the outdoor barbeque.


  25. #25
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    I know where you are coming from but does it really matter. You can only kill them when you find them. For every termite colony one kills there are absolutely countless more colonies out there. If formoson move into an area I guess they move into an area. It is nice to track them but nothing can really be done about it. Out of all the trillions of termites in North Central Texas only a handfull are in homes. The rest are out there happily eating at the outdoor barbeque.

    The reason for tracking their spread is because they can be so devastating in their damage.

    Once found ... that is the key ... once found one of the best way to kill the Formosan termite colony is through baiting, which kills the colony.

    However, what had been found in South Florida where Formosans first appeared was that more than one colony may be feeding on a single structure, so killing 'the' colony may not be killing 'all' of the colonies, that is where persons knowledgeable with Formosan termites can help.

    The entire idea of pest control ... 'pest' 'control' ... not pest 'elimination' ... is to keep those bugger feeding at the outdoor barbeque - not at the indoor restaurant.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    J.P. They are too small for Formosan. As Rick stated they are
    Sub-termites... You will find the Formosan in that area. But this is not them.

    Formosan Subterranean Termite

    Best

    Ron


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    J.P. They are too small for Formosan. As Rick stated they are
    Sub-termites... You will find the Formosan in that area. But this is not them.

    Ron, What I was pointing out was two things:
    1) That Formosan termites *are* "subterranean termites", just as any other subterranean termite species is.
    2) That the material Kent described is like the carton material which Formosan termites are known to make their nests out of.

    Regarding size, it is difficult to assess that from the photo.

    By the way, your link was to the same page I linked to previously.

    The only way we will know if they are or are not Formosan (subterranean) termites is when Kent posts back.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  28. #28
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    JP. Look at his finger and then look at the termite. to small.... Its not a Formosan... Just a plane or standard sub-termite. He is just working with the materials. (dirt) in his area.

    If you ;look at the body and head and then look at the body and head on your link. you will see that its not a Formosan.

    But then what do i Known. I have never had one in my hand only in books and photos. But the keys is the same in the photos.

    Just a plane old sub-termite.

    Best

    Ron.


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post

    JP. Look

    Just a plane old sub-termite
    .

    Best

    Ron.
    .
    Ron You Know he don't Like Sub's.

    * they Start his Ticks to Jerking.
    .

    Last edited by Billy Stephens; 03-28-2009 at 05:02 PM. Reason: ticks
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  30. #30
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Jerry,
    Just to let you know, I met my pest guy out at the house today and he said that there were not Formosan, just your run of the mill subterranean termite. He said that the mud tube was so large because it had been there so long. He has been working in this area for over 30 years and has never seen a case of Formosan and said there has only been about 12 confirmed cases of them in this area.


  31. #31
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Quote Originally Posted by Kent Keith View Post
    Jerry,
    Just to let you know, I met my pest guy out at the house today and he said that there were not Formosan, just your run of the mill subterranean termite.
    Kent,

    Thank you for the update.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  32. #32
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    Default Re: Free standing termite tubes

    Ole Rick Hurst is right.... after Easter here in the Dallas area, we get swarms so bad, the blanket the top of the swimming pool every year.

    You can litterly go outside and get the little bass-turds caught in your hair and mouth they are so thick.

    Nasty buggers!!


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