On a recent commercial inspection I was performing I came across the largest termite shelter tubes I have ever seen.
What appears to be a crack in the wall in the picture on the right is actually a shelter tube built by Eastern Subterranean Termites.
These little critters live in the soil and are not as destructive as the Formosan termites which are typically found in the southern states, but just the same, you don't want them in your house, or your commercial building!
The reason for the shelter tube is to protect them from the elements. These little guys dry out easily and need to have this protective tunnel to and from the food source to keep from dying during the trip.
I think we are all familiar with the damage termites can cause. They'll turn a 2X10 into nothing but an empty shell.
They are however an essential part of nature. In their natural environment they help return rotting and decaying wood to the soil which is beneficial to all plants and animals.
The problem is when they start trying to eat our stuff. Apparently they are not afraid to travel some distance to get to their food source, as you can see in the picture below.
Now I have made some road trips in my time, but this is ridiculous. These shelter tubes are nearly seven feet tall from the soil to the food source. The distance traveled for these little guys in this case is tremendous. It's like hopping in the car and driving two states away for a dinner date. I bet they were hungry by the time they got there.
I have seen a lot of these shelter tubes during the course of performing home inspections in Eastern Iowa but these definitely have to take the cake.