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What is the Life Cycle of a Termite?

Compared to most pests, termites live out a very unique life cycle that results in each termite being designated a specific role within the colony. 

The life cycle of a termite typically plays out in the following ways:

  1. One male and one female reproductive (alate) will mate and become king and queen of the newly formed colony.
  2. The queen termite will lay the eggs produced.
  3. Larvae will hatch from the eggs and become nymphs.
  4. Termite nymphs will molt up to three times before reaching maturity.
  5. After molting one last time, the termite will be assigned a caste, aka their specific role within the colony.
Termite life cycle in Knoxville TN - Russell's Pest Control

Termite Life Stages

A new cycle of termite life begins when the reproductive caste, also known as alates or swarmers, swarm to form new colonies. After mating, the reproductives will shed their wings and the new king and queen excavate a small chamber in the soil underground, where the queen begins to lay her eggs. The queen termite will lay up to 30,000 eggs in a day. Her eggs hatch into larvae and the young nymph termites will molt three times before being assigned as a reproductive, worker, or soldier.

Termite Life Expectancy

Different types of termites have different life expectancies. On average, termites live just several years. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Soldier and worker termites live for one to two years. 
  • Reproductive termites, also known as alates or swarmers, can live for nearly 4 years.
  • Queens have been known to survive for twenty years or more under optimal conditions.

What Are Termite Castes?

Research has not yet uncovered discovered how termites are assigned one caste or another. Experts believe that it is likely determined by social and environmental cues based on the needs of the colony at that time. Further investigations have suggested that the specific caste each termite is assigned isn’t always set in stone; depending on the needs of the colony, termites are able to switch their caste at any given time. 

What is the Life Cycle of a Termite? in Knoxville TN

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