What is the Life Cycle of a Termite?

Something that separates termites from other pests is how they’re eventually put into a designated caste. Much like the way we live our lives, every termite plays a role in the community. In any given colony there are eggs, larvae or termite nymphs, older nymphs, workers, soldiers, drones and queens. 

Their roles may change over time, and they can involve the following: 

  • Males and female reproductives that mate to establish a new colony
  • A queen that produces eggs
  • Eggs that hatch into larvae, and then turn into nymphs
  • Nymphs that molt up to three times before reaching maturity
  • Mature termites that are then given a caste in the colony

Let’s go into more detail over this process.

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The Termite Life Cycle

You may have seen termites flying in swarms outdoors. These are known as alates, and they’re a reproductive cast of swarmers that are tasked with starting a new colony. Once a male and female alate mate, they shed their wings and take up the throne as king and queen. It is then that they build a chamber in the soil and the queen begins laying up to 30,000 eggs in a day. 

These eggs hatch into larvae, then nymphs, and then eventually reach maturity and become either a reproductive, worker or soldier.

How Long do Termites Live?

The lifespan of a termite depends on its role within the colony. Workers and soldiers live for up to two years, while alates can survive for nearly four years. And, if under the right set of conditions, the queen termite can live for twenty years or more.

When Do Termites Get Put Into a Caste?

Science is still undecided on what exactly puts termites in a certain caste. There’s been research that suggests social and environmental cues play a factor, as well as the general needs of the colony. There’s also a chance that termites can switch castes to better serve the community. But as of now, no one knows for certain.

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