How to Determine Termite Mounds in a Yard

Hunker may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.
Image Credit: Caroline Brundle Bugge/iStock/GettyImages
See More Photos

Termite myth is they do nothing but demolish the homes of conscientious families, keeping pest control specialists in business, but there are many kinds of termites all over the world and most do not devour houses. In some places, termites build mounds where the soil is unusually dry; the structures are so perfect, they have wells and ways to move water around the structure. A mound can also be underground, mistaken for an ant hill. An arboreal mound can be attached directly to a tree, and, in the desert, termites create mounds that look like towers with construction so involved it defies logic. There are a few ways to identify a termite mound, either in your yard or elsewhere.


Video of the Day

Subterranean Termite Mounds

Step 1: Scan the Area

Scan the ground closely where a suspected termite mound may be located. A small hole that looks like a rounded smokestack marks the opening of the mound. The ground must be moist for a subterranean mound to be constructed for the inhabitants.


Step 2: Inspect the Opening

Watch the opening and look for the termites to come and go from the mound. The termites coming out of the mound may look like winged ants but are much larger. Some appear white, almost transparent. Below this benign opening is another world where the termite is highly efficient as it works out a daily routine.


Step 3: Remove Soil From Mound

Use a shovel to take a shovelful of earth from the side of the mound and down into the ground. Mound construction consists of mud, feces, and chewed wood. There will be evidence of termite activity once you have removed the dirt around the nest. With a little dirt removal, it will expose the inside of the subterranean mound, and the complex paths, wells, and internal structures will be evident.


External Mountainous Termite Mounds

Step 1: Check All Mounds

Investigate any mound of earth that stands high up from the ground. These mounds can look like towers, with a diameter of several feet and up to 30 feet in height. The mounds are in locations where water is scarce and are considered modern marvels because of the way the termites construct internal wells for rainwater to sustain the inhabitants of the mound.


Step 2: Look for Holes

Examine the mound up close. There will be holes in the side of it for termites to come and go. The large standing mounds are perfect for anteaters and aardvarks to pull apart and dine on the hard-working termites inside.

Step 3: Inspect Inside the Mound

Knock down a small portion of the mound; evident inside will be the makings of a little city, with water transported around the mound from area to area by the industrious termites. These aren't mounds found in the average yard, but are located in arid places such as Australia or the African savanna.


Termite Mound Attached to a Tree

Step 1: Check for Openings

Look for a small mound with a chimney-shaped opening. This will be the most common type of termite mound found in your yard. Check to see if there is a mud tube that extends from the main mound to a nearby tree.


Step 2: Check Mud Tube Connection

Check the place on the tree where the mud tube is connected; there should be a small mound on the tree close to the main mound and tube securing the tube to the tree. This tube takes the termites back and forth from the tree where they find food, to the main structure or the subterranean mound a short distance away.


Step 3: Check for Termites

Look for termites. If termite activity abounds, which will be mainly white termites or termites with wings, it is undoubtedly a termite mound. The mound will have to be removed to get rid of the termites if the tree is to be kept healthy.