How to Determine Termite Mounds in a Yard

Termite myth is they do nothing but demolish the homes of conscientious families, keeping exterminators in business. Behind the myth, 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. Mounds can 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 a tower with construction so involved it defies logic. There are a few ways to establish a termite mound, either in your yard or elsewhere.

Termite mounds such as this are found in deserts in Tanzania and other countries.

Subterranean Termite Mounds

Step 1

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

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 ants with wings but are much larger. Some appear white, almost transparent. Below this benign opening is another world -- a world where the termite is highly efficient as it works out a daily routine.

Step 3

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 4

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 5

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 6

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 are not 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 7

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 8

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 9

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 if the tree is to be kept healthy.