Do Termites Make Cocoons or Mud Tubes?

Mud Tube Facts & Information


Do Termites Make Cocoons?

To answer this question we must first establish what a cocoon is.


The definition of a cocoon according to A Glossary of Entomology is “a covering, composed partially or wholly of silk or other viscid fiber, spun or constructed by many larvae as a protection to the pupa.”

Usually when someone is asked to describe a cocoon, they will say a cocoon is a silk casing that a moth or butterfly caterpillar spins around itself before it becomes a pupa.

The prevailing thought is that insects construct cocoons for protection from predators or the unkind conditions of an unfavorable environment.

Mud Tubes

Based upon the definition above, termites do not make cocoons since cocoons are constructed by the group of insects that develop via complete metamorphosis, unlike the incomplete metamorphosis of the termites.

However, subterranean termites do find it necessary to construct mud tubes, which are built from:

  • Termite feces
  • Plant matter
  • Termite saliva
  • Soil

The purpose of termite mud tubes is to provide a tunnel for termites to use when moving from one location to another, keeping them within the humidity of the mud tube, plus providing a protective place against predators such as ants.

Those who are not familiar with termites are apt to mistake their protective mud tubes for a cocoon since termite mud tubes are somewhat similar to mud cocoons constructed by mud dauber wasps.