Subterranean Termites Live the High Life

Subterranean Termites Feast on Second Story Home

Subterranean means under ground, however we recently identified subterranean termites living the high life, as in the ceiling of a two-story home. Because of the location and the cooperation of the homeowner, we were able to photograph a usually hidden habitat of subterranean termites.

subterranean termite tube Thrasher Termite & Pest Control

Subterranean termite tubes can look like hollow sesame sticks. They are about the same size and same color.

Here’s what happened–

While removing a ceiling light fixture on the first floor, the homeowner noticed unusual debris falling from the ceiling. He proceeded to remove a portion of the ceiling drywall and discovered rows and rows of subterranean termite tubes. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control was called in for a definitive identification and for treatment options.

Subterranean Termite Tubes I

What were subterranean termites doing in the ceiling? Eating of course. Like all subterranean termites, this members of this colony entered the home from the soil. They built mud tubes (the termite equivalent of a highway system) over hard surfaces such as the concrete footing of the house and across floor joists.

Hidden deep inside the walls, they ate the wood timbers from the ground up, building mud tubes along the way. Once the termites reached the ceiling, they built mud tubes hidden from view across the ceiling drywall and up the ceiling joists at several locations. Now they were in position to attack the second floor.

Termites in Ceiling Joists


Once the subterranean termite infestation was identified, we performed a perimeter soil treatment. Unlike drywood termites, subterranean termites cannot survive without contact with the colony in the soil. The soil treatment is like an underground chemical moat around a house that prevents subterranean termites from the colony from accessing the house. Any termites still in the mud tubes can’t reach the colony and perish.

Subterranean Termite Thrasher Termite & Pest Control

Subterranean Termite. Actual size 1/8 inch.


About the Author:

Garrett Thrasher is Vice President and General Manager of Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal, Inc., Chairperson of the San Diego District of the Pest Control Operators of California (PCOC), a member of the bedbugFREE network, and a member of the National Pest Management Association. Author of The Bed Bug Battle Plan: Field Tested Solutions for Bed Bug Extermination and Prevention (ISBN: 1500838209), Garrett’s solid understanding of bed bugs, their behavior, current outbreaks, and experience on camera has made him a leading contact for news and media outlets. He is also a sought after speaker on the topic of managing online reviews for positive impact. He has spoken at PestWorld and PestTech, and was featured in PCT Magazine and the PCT Podcast. Thrasher Termite & Pest Control of So Cal is accredited by QualityPro–the mark of excellence in pest management.

One Comment

  1. Brian October 9, 2014 at 6:22 am - Reply

    A lot of people fail to realize that the problem with termites isn’t so much the termites themselves, but the “construction projects” they take out on your property. Thanks for sharing some valuable warning signs!

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