Understanding the termite life cycle is important for effective termite control. The termite life cycle begins with the queen laying eggs. Young queens may only lay a couple dozen eggs per day at the beginning, but when she reaches full maturity, she may lay up to 30,000 eggs every day. This statistic is particularly frightening for homeowners who are worried about termite infestations.
After the eggs hatch, the young termites are called nymphs. Termites go through incomplete metamorphosis, meaning that the young nymphs resemble adults, but without the ability to reproduce. In order to reach adulthood, they will need to molt (shed their skin) several times. These molts can take several months to finish, but timing is dependent on temperature, the available food, and the population of the colony.
Once they have gone through a series of molts, the termites will most likely be part of the worker class that gathers food, tends the young, and expands the colony. Worker termites typically live approximately 1-2 years, depending on the species.
If conditions within the colony are right, a termite may undergo even more molts and be part of the soldier or alate (reproductive) social classes.
Soldier termites are responsible for the protection of the colony, and like workers, they typically live 1-2 years. Alates are reproductive termites that are the future kings and queens of new colonies. Alates typically leave the colony during the nuptial flight where they will swarm to find mates.
How is Termite Social Class Determined?
The determination of social class is controlled by the queen termite. She produces pheromones that will suppress development of other queens and/or cause development of more workers or soldiers, depending on what the colony needs.
If the colony is expanding faster than the queen can produce eggs, the queen may use her pheromones to allow the development of secondary queens to help grow the colony. If a queen dies or gets separated from the nest, the pheromones that she produced will no longer be present and new queens will being to develop. Luckily, for the termite colony, queens typically live a long time. Drywood termite queens average 10-12 years, subterranean queens can live up to 30 years, and some species of African termite queens can live up to 50 years. This makes them the longest lived insect on earth.
How Does the Termite Life Cycle Impact Termite Control?
After learning all this, it becomes apparent that the queen truly controls the future of the colony, and throughout her lifetime she can produce millions of eggs. Without killing the queen or queens, there is little hope of being able to get a termite infestation under control. Pest Control companies are now able to take advantage of the termite’s life cycle by creating baits that use Insect Growth Regulators (IGR’s) that interfere with the molting process, thus killing the termites. Since worker termites collect and share the food with the queen and the rest of the colony, these baits prove to be very effective at eliminating the entire colony.
If you need help getting rid of termites, contact the professionals at Radar Pest Control. Our expert technicians will come inspect your property and come up with a customized plan to eliminate the termites for good. For Sunshine Coast Pest Control, Radar Pest Control is your best bet.