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How long does a termite mound last?

Termites are fascinating insects that live in colonies and build large mounds made of soil, saliva, and feces. These impressive structures can often last for decades or even centuries, but their lifespan depends on several factors.

Average Lifespan

On average, termite mounds can last between 15-20 years if left undisturbed. However, there is a wide range when it comes to the longevity of termite mounds. Some may only last for 5-10 years, while others have been documented to stand for over 45 years.

The mounds built by some termite species tend to last longer than others. For example, mounds constructed by Macrotermes bellicosus termites in Africa often persist for 20-30 years. Comparatively, mounds built by Nasutitermes exitiosus termites in South America may only endure for about 15 years before being abandoned.

Factors Affecting Longevity

There are several key factors that influence how long a termite mound will last:

  • Species – The termite species plays a major role in mound durability. As mentioned, some species construct mounds that can persist much longer than other species before being abandoned.
  • Climate – Hot, arid climates can cause termite mounds to deteriorate faster due to evaporation and erosion. Mounds in tropical climates typically last the longest.
  • Rainfall – Too much rainfall and moisture can damage mounds and cause them to collapse. Drier climates are more favorable for termite mound longevity.
  • Soil composition – Denser clay-like soils enable termites to build more robust and durable mounds.
  • Mound size – Larger mounds tend to last longer than smaller ones.
  • Mound maintenance – Regular maintenance and repair by termites helps mounds endure longer.
  • Human disturbance – Damage caused by human activities like farming, construction, etc. can shorten lifespan.

Record Longevities

While most termite mounds survive for just a couple decades, some exceptionally old mounds have been discovered:

  • A huge mound in Africa built by Macrotermes michaelseni termites was estimated to be at least 183 years old.
  • A Magnetic termite mound in northern Australia was thought to be over 100 years old.
  • Mounds built by Amitermes laurensis in Australia are believed capable of lasting over 60 years.

These ancient mounds were able to achieve such impressive longevities thanks to a combination of size, durable construction, ideal climate, and minimal human interference.


Eventually, as termite mounds age, they will reach the end of their lives. Termites may abandon a nest for various reasons:

  • The mound becomes too damaged or unstable.
  • The colony outgrows the mound.
  • Declining food sources nearby necessitate relocation.
  • The colony gets overheated or flooded.
  • Takeover by rival termite colonies.

Once termites vacate a mound, it will rapidly begin deteriorating without the termites’ maintenance. Erosion from rain, wind, and vegetation quickly wears away the abandoned structure.

Preserving Old Mounds

Due to their impressive age, some very old termite mounds have been preserved to protect their structural integrity. Conservation methods may involve:

  • Constructing protective coverings over the mound.
  • Reinforcing weak areas with new soil and concrete.
  • Land development restrictions around the mound site.
  • Banning destructive human activities like farming near mounds.

With active human stewardship, the most ancient termite mounds can last for centuries beyond their natural lifespans.


Termite mounds are complex structures that can persist for decades and even longer when built by certain species under the right conditions. A typical termite mound may survive 15-20 years on average. But the oldest on record have endured over a century before being abandoned. With careful preservation, these architectural marvels of nature engineering can amaze us for many generations to come.