I feel a need to double check this. I found a couple mud tubes going into a wall along with some minor damage to some paneling inside. I removed the paneling, sprayed some termite killer in there and scraped off the mud tubes.

My belief is that termites always return to the nest through those tubes. If I remove the tubes, what happens to those left in the wall that may not have been killed? Do they attempt to return home or do I need to worry about them living in the wall for an extended period of time?

Note that I have put bait traps in the ground and sprayed the wall on the outside, too.

  • Not qualified to answer this, but generally termites are attracted to moist wood. Like with mold, if you deal with the problem then address the moisture problem then they generally won't come back. Commented Oct 17, 2012 at 19:10

2 Answers 2


First, let's assume it is subterranean termites...because your post seems to indicate so. The obvious thing I deduce from your desription is that you are not finding termites in those tubes...hence your curiosity about what happens without the tubes. Point 1. Remember that the female worker termites--the one's eating your house--are blind and must have scent trails to find their way back to the colony. Remove those trails and you remove not only their hideaway avenues, you remove trail home for the most part. (But don't let yourself take comfort in that.) Point 2, termites are strictly a colonial organism--no termite exists and lives for itself; so termites living in the wall and dining your house away for their own pleasure is not a concern.

It is dubious at best what the effectiveness of spot application will be in the long run; and not feasible to think that you can get to them inside the wall cavities. Individual animals you see are only the tip of the proverbial iceberg; it's the hordes you never see (until swarm) that bring down a house quite quickly.

In most states if not all there is very little you can do but a start would be to inspect and remove any contact between house wood and soil. Next, moisture encourages infestation and invasion so check for sound roof condition, guttering, and any rain paths to the foundation, mud sill, crawl space, etc. Perimeter tiling or drain piping, or water shed ground sloping, to carry water away from the house is another suggestion.

Ultimately, you will need licensed termite eradication to either inject a barrier or kill the colony with an effective baiting system--most diy systems are not. Barriers work by preventing any temite from getting into the house--because once inside no systemic treatment has been found to be effective. Baiting systems that work, kill the colony by exploiting known termite foraging habits.

One problem with termite infestations--when you see tunnels, or swarms, or specimens (and sometimes ants in large concentration) you know you already have a significant infestation. Another vexing thing about termites is that the longer they have been in your walls, carpet, books and such the faster their rate of destruction... it's never too early to call in the pro's; and time used hoping to avoid the treatment expense by self help is as often as not time spent to the termites'--not your own and not your house's--advantage.

  • The question, per say, about "stay" in wall is a bit ambigous. If you mean always be found there, that is possible. If you mean never leave and return to colony, no. Part of worker termites' duties are to return food source information. This can't happend unless individuals return, or die trying. An uniformed colony would quickly die.
    – Lex
    Commented Oct 22, 2012 at 12:45

Just to add a little something. Even subterranean termites can live and maintain a colony within walls without going back into the ground. If there is a water leak, or water sprinklers that keep an area wet within the walls and the wood never dries, the colony can maintain and will expand within that structure. I treated a house which had that very problem in 2003. Only house I have ever seen in 23 years.

Been doing spot treatments since 1999 and have never had a re-treat using Termidor SC. Have only had to fully treat 2 houses since 1999 only because the termites were surrounding both. And, we warranty those spot treatments up to 10 years.

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