Mud tunnels are pencil size tunnels or tubes made by some ants when they build their nest. Some insects make tunnels under the ground, while others build them above the ground to make a way to the colony.
Do Ants Make Mud Tunnels? Ants can make mud tunnels to protect themselves and their eggs from predators, maintain a suitable temperature, build nests and colonies, make smooth routes to connect with the food source and get moisture for the rooted wood or other moist places. They mix soil, secretions, saliva, and sawdust to make loose tunnels, which can collapse with a slight touch.
You often notice them in your backyard or inside the house where the wooden furniture or moisture is present. People confuse the termite and ant tunnels because the carpenter ants and fire ants tunnels look similar to the termites but are different.
Why do ants make mud tunnels?
Not all ants build mud tunnels, but some species make them for the following reasons.
Protection from predators
Different insects prey on ants and eat them, which causes them to have security precautions to protect them and their eggs.
They make the mud tunnels to have a safe and protective environment and avoid attacks from predators and other intruders.
It is difficult for you to notice them in your backyard from the moist wood to their nest, and they keep on living and surviving without any fear of being caught by predators.
They keep their larvae safe from many external threats, such as moth butterflies targeting the eggs as they hatch because they have heavy and have strong exteriors.
They are small compared to the preying insects and cannot survive if they see their nest. Therefore, they use these routes as protection to hide and travel safely toward their nest.
Maintain the temperature
They cannot withstand freezing and hot weather; some insects form mud tunnels to maintain the temperature while traveling to their colonies.
It also helps them to survive different weather conditions, as it acts as the cover and travel safely to their destination. They make tunnels to maintain a warm temperature for the young larvae.
They help them to regulate the temperature according to the outside environment, such as the eggs remaining warm in cold weather and cool in direct sunlight with high temperatures in summer.
I noticed a mud tunnel of fire ants in my backyard and the outside garden of my house.
So I examined their activities and concluded that they form these tunnels and make their way to their living place, as no one can notice their activities inside this area.
Building nests and colonies
Ants live, travel, and place their eggs inside the mud tunnels to grow the larvae and build nests or colonies in a suitable environment.
The fire ants make 7-8 inches high mud tubes using the soil, debris, and other organic wastes. The mud falls and causes them to spread and run away when you disturb their traveling path.
You can easily spot them in the seams around the mud bricks, in your backyard or garden, and around the moist wood which attracts these insects.
They can extend to many feet if the infestation is severe, especially in old houses with mud bricks instead of cement mortar.
They start making their colonies by laying thousands of eggs and protecting them in this safe environment to thrive until they become adults.
Connect with the food source
They make clean and smooth mud tunnels, while termite tunnels are messy, which makes it easy to determine whether you have termite infestation or ants.
The insects use them to travel to food sources, as they do not eat the wood and the soil. However, some ants eat dead insects and plant mold to survive.
The worker ants travel through them to reach their food source and bring it back to their nest for larvae or to store it.
They connect the underground or above-the-ground nest with the food source to reach it easily using the ability to build these tunnels. Not all ant species can have the ability to make these routes, but some can do it for their safety and survival.
Get moisture from the rooting wood
Moisture attracts them to build their nest, and some moisture ants are attracted to the rotted wood as they get an adequate amount of dampness from such places.
You can find the colonies near the rotted tree in your garden or backyard. Moreover, they do not eat wood but make their shelter inside or near this place by building mud tunnels.
Moisture ants build their nest and colonies on damp wood and can deteriorate the wood over time.
How do ants make mud tunnels?
They make loose tunnels that can collapse as you touch them on the walls or the ground. They use the soil, organic waste products, and saliva and release secretion to form tubes or tunnels.
They start the process by digging the soil or collecting it from the ground if making tunnels on the wall, and combining it with secretions or saliva to form a tunnel-like shape.
They mix soil, wood sawdust, and saliva to make sticky mud, forming a tube on the walls or the ground from wood to their nest.
People often think of the ant tunnel as termite, but the difference between the two is clear, such as the ant tunnel is not strong and compact, while the termites form a sturdy and compact tube on the wall, wood, or ground.
What types of ants make mud tunnels?
Many ant exterminators think these insects cannot build mud tunnels above the ground, as they dig the soil to build colonies.
However, researchers proved that different types of ants build the tunnels, such as fire ants, army ants, citronella ants, and leafcutter ants. The Carpenter ants can make colonies in wood, but these are not like mud tunnels.
Leafcutter ants can cut the larger tree leaves and make the tunnels to provide a warm, humid, and suitable environment inside the colonies for young teammates.
Fire ants are famous for their painful bite and can build mud tubes. In addition, it helps to maintain a suitable temperature for their eggs, as the larvae cannot bear direct sunlight and high temperature.
Citronella ants are a type of moisture insect and love to build tunnels near the rooted wood and moisture areas. They get food from the insects around trees, organic waste, and other nutritious products inside the soil.
Army ants can build colonies with millions of members, as their name shows, because they can make an army to fight the predators and save their nests by making tunnels.
How to get rid of mud tunnels made by ants?
Professionals recommend different methods to get rid of the mud tunnels made by ants, as they are not sturdy, and you can easily remove them.
They do not leave behind any stains as the termites do and can vanish with a slight push. However, detecting the nest and colony where the tunnels lead to getting rid of these insects is better.
Remove the rooted wood from your backyard or inside the house where to notice them, as these insects can build these routes again if you do not remove the source which causes attracts them.
You can use boiling water to kill the nest and tunnels made by the insects, as it is the easiest and safer way to get rid of them without damaging the infested place.
People often use environment-friendly insecticides, such as diatomaceous earth, rotenone, and neem or eucalyptus oil can help to fix this issue.
You should call a professional ant exterminator if the infestation is severe and you do not have the experience to deal with such problems. They can use certified methods to remove these insects and their nest permanently.