Do Termites Live in the Ground? {Which Ones?}

Do you see termites coming out of the foundations of your home? Do termites live in the ground?

Are you seeing them coming out of the soil? How deep are termites in the ground?

In this article, we will find out the answer to the question, “Do termites live in the ground?”

Do Termites Live in the Ground?

The most destructive termites are considered to be the subterranean termites species. They come out of the ground, soil, lumber, tree stumps and other piles of wood.

You may see subterranean termites out in the open in your garden. Their mission is to dig expansive mud tunnels that make their way into your home from the foundation and through the walls.

They are not like drywood termites who mostly depend on their winged counterparts to fly into your home from open entryways.

Do Termites Come Up From the Ground?

Subterranean termites come up from the ground. They are the most common type of termite that infest homes. One of the biggest problems with these ground-dwelling termites is that they can build colonies into the millions.

Subterranean termites are able to use their saliva and feces in liquid form mixed with soil to create these mud tunnels underneath the ground.

They live to serve their queen under the soil. They can dig 18 to 20 feet under your garden without you noticing. It could take them months or years to tunnel their way into your home.

Where Do Termites Live?

There are over 3,000 recorded species of termites. They belong to the top three members including:

  • drywood termite
  • dampwood termites
  • subterranean termites

Drywood termites

Drywood termites are most commonly derived from drywood habitats, hence their name. They can dwell in forest, suburban developments, wood shops and the walls of your home.

There can access firewood or furniture near or in your home. Firewood is their favorite, but they are just as happy to enjoy drywall, sheetrock or any other type of materials included in building materials or furniture that are rich in cellulose.

Drywood termites do not live in the ground.

Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites live in moisture rich environments. They are the exact opposite of drywood termites. Dampwood termites are looking for trees and stumps that have rotted.

The warmer the weather or climate, the more likely that dampwood termites are present. If your home is rotting from the inside, leaking or high in humidity, dampwood termites would love the opportunity to feast on the cellulose that is moist.

They will contribute to the spread of mold with their droppings, but will not live in the ground for long periods of time.

Subterranean Termites

Subterranean termites live in the ground. They also enjoy moisture-rich environments in soil or damp wood. They can remain in tree stumps or underneath your gardens 18 to 20 feet deep.

Here they would spend hours, days, weeks and months to build mud tubes to access their favorite food source which is cellulose.

The cellulose they can find inside the foundation of your home through your walls will cause them to create incredible damage. Subterranean termite colonies are the largest of all termite species.

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How Deep are Termites in the Ground?

Drywood and dampwood termites do not nestle deep into the ground. They would prefer to remain hidden inside:

  • Firewood
  • Lumber
  • Tree stumps
  • The walls of your home

Subterranean termites can live 18 to 20 feet deep into the ground. This soil can protect subterranean termites from extreme heat. These termites will create mud tubes to travel through.

They will reach wood or cellulose rich materials on your property or in your home. If temperatures are low on the surface of the ground around your property, subterranean termites will dig deeper into it to avoid freezing.

If you live in a home where the building contains central heating or heated floors, subterranean termites will not dig that deep into the ground around your property.

In warmer months their nest will be three feet below the ground. On average, subterranean termite nests are usually 5 feet below the surface.

Do Termites Live in the House or Outside?

Termites can live outside, under the ground, in firewood, tree stumps or travel through your house. They may find their way inside your furniture or in your walls. They may also live in cracks and voids around the exterior of homes.

They can also dig deep inside wooden structures and foundations of homes. Often it is hard to spot termites in the early stages of their invasion.

The infestation grows out of control, often into the millions before we even notice these mud tunnels that were created underneath the home.

How To Find A Termite Nest In The Ground?

The sooner you find the nests of termites in the ground, the faster you can act to save your home. Subterranean termites do not tend to build mounds over the ground. This is why it’s hard to locate their nests because they can be as far as 18 to 20 ft.

Follow the steps below to find termite nest in the ground:

  1. Look for small holes in the ground. The soil could be moist. Some of these holes look like rounded smokestacks.
  2. Look for termite wings around the openings of these holes. Once winged the termites find a suitable area to begin their colony, they will shed their wings. If there are shed Wings next to holes in the ground, there’s a good chance the termite colony resides in there.
  3. Knock or dig some of the ground where you find small holes. Continue digging until you find yourself 3 to 5 ft deep. Look for tiny creatures dwelling or crawling in this area that are ranging from cream, brown or black in color.

What Brings Termites to Homes?

If termites can live in the ground for months or years then why do they come to your homes? Termites are attracted to 3 main factors:

  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Water


The food that termites eat consists of cellulose. Cellulose is found in wood materials. This is going to be the reason why termites are attracted to lumber, paper, firewood, framing around your home.

Termites may also be drawn to rotting tree stumps and stacks of firewood located around your property.

Once they consume as much as possible around the outside of your home, some species of termites will dig down deep into the ground and build tunnels that can reach into your home.


Termites prefer shelters that are dark, wet and moist. The areas in your home that are most likely to be a fitting location for them include:

  • attics
  • crawl spaces
  • garages

Your surrounding garden or yard can also be considered an ideal location for termites if there is cellulose present in plant or tree stumps.

Once the cellulose begins to run low, or if termites sense that there are larger amounts of cellulose nearby, they will begin building long mud tube tunnels that lead to a motherload stock of cellulose which is the framing of your home.


The water we speak of here, is the moisture that termites need to stay alive. The soil that is usually moist is comfortable for termites to remain active and thrive. This is where the colony can reside.

Workers can bring cellulose to their queen who resides in the soil. Downspouts in gutters that don’t drain properly around your yard my also to become a perfect area for termites to build their colonies.

Where Do Termites Enter the Home?

Termites can enter your home or buildings by making contact with wood through the ground. They can also enter through windows and door frames with their winged swarmers shedding their wings and starting new colonies in your home.

You may find them in deck posts or in your home’s foundation. Subterranean termites for example, are responsible for colonies that reach the millions who live in the ground near your property.

They’ll take their time building intricate tunnels that will lead to the foundation of your home and the walls.

What Happens if You Find Termites in Your Garden?

It is not uncommon for some homeowners to find termites when planting in their garden. If you make it as low as to 2-3 ft deep, you may find a few termites crawling around.

You may even see these insects on the ground at night looking for some cellulose. They can find pieces of grass from your lawn and bring it back to their nest under the ground.

Termites love to eat decomposed, dead wood. Once you notice termites around your property, it’s important to call a professional service for an inspection of your home.

At this point,  you can begin treating the surrounding area with natural chemicals such as orange oil or beginning applying commercial termiticides to save the exterior of your home and foundations from their infestation.


Thanks for visiting for the best information to help you to make the pest control process easy, safe & affordable.

Jason Barrett

Hello, I'm Jason. I have 11 years of experience in dealing with pests. I try to provide you the best information that'll help you to make the pest control process easy & affordable