Close up of termites

Termites live out a very unique life cycle in which they are eventually assigned to a designated caste.

The termite life cycle contains an egg, young termite larvae or termite nymph, older nymph, worker, soldier, drone, and queen.

Termite species have the following trajectory:

  1. Male and female reproductives will mate and establish a new colony.
  2. The queen termite lays the eggs she has been producing.
  3. Larvae will hatch from the eggs and become nymphs.
  4. The nymphs will continually molt up to three times before reaching maturity.
  5. When mature, the termite will be assigned a caste, which is a specific role within a colony.

The Termite Life Cycle

When alates or swarmers form and create new colonies, the new termite life cycle will begin. After the female and male alate mate with one another, the reproductive termites will shed their wings and a new king and queen emerge. The king and queen will then create a small chamber underground in the soil and the queen is then able to lay her eggs. In a single day, the queen termite can lay up to 30,000 eggs. Once the eggs hatch, they will turn into larvae, with the nymph termites undergoing three molting cycles before it is assigned as a worker, soldier, or reproductive termite. New colonies are one of the reasons for termite infestations to grow so rapidly within a structure. One way to catch and mitigate the growth is to hire a professional for inspections

For How Long Do Termites Live?

The termite castes vary in lifespan, but on average, termites live for the following amounts of time: 

  • Worker and soldier termites live for one to two years. 
  • Reproductive termites, also known as alates or swarmers, can live for nearly 4 years.
  • Under prime conditions, the termite queen has been known to survive for twenty years or more.

When Do Termites Get Designated Into a Caste?

It is still unknown how or why termites are designated to a caste. There has been research conducted to explore this question, and it is suggested that the assignment is based on environmental and social cues that match the needs of the colony. Another speculation from scientists is that termites can switch what caste they are a part of if the colony has a new need. 

Back to Termite Identification

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