Termites, like ants and bees, live in structures called colonies. These colonies support tens of thousands of insects and sometimes hold up to a million insects at a time.
Termites who are subterranean usually build their nests underground. Sometimes, however, their nests can exist partially above ground as well, in the form of a mound. Termite mounds and nests are called termitariums. They can exist on the soil and underground. Depending on the species, the termitariums can be located at the base of a tree or in the tree itself.
Termitariums are constructed of mud walls and underground tunnels. The mud that termites use to build these structures is extremely hard, almost like cement. The nests underground are about 2 feet below the surface, but can spread 30 feet in diameter underground.
Termite mounds are the above ground nests of other termite species. These mounds are also made of mud, but they are covered with a paper substance to give them a harder shell. Termite mounds are more common in areas of the world such as Africa or Australia. Some mounds can grow quite large, reaching 20 feet in height.
Arboreal termite species build their mounds in trees or at the base of tree stumps. They construct these mounds out of mud, like other species, but attach them to the tree itself. They also will build a series of shelter tubes to travel safely up the tree to their nests.
Termites will leave the nest or mound to gather nutrients, and will travel great distances for food sources. The worker termites build tunnels leading away from the nest, and will bring back the food and water needed to keep other members of the colony thriving.