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Termite Life Cycles: The 3 Critical Stages You Need To Know

Termites provide a risk to every house, compromising every piece of wood they dig and forage into, so it’s no surprise that understanding the termite life cycle is critical to understanding the level of damage that you could be facing at any one time. It is approximated that termites trigger over 5 billion dollars worth of damage a year in the United States alone.

The worst part of a termite problem is that it is typically not evident. Termites mostly remain underground or in the wood. They’re infesting, implying that the invasion goes undetected by the house owner until the damage is currently done.

While not quickly avoidable, a notified and watchful property owner will have the ability to identify the indication of a termite problem and stop it as rapidly as possible.

In this article, we’ll have a look at the termite lifecycle and the lifespan of termites, and we’ll describe the various functions that termites serve within their nests so that you can identify and prevent any problems on your own property.

You may also be interested in FAQs About Termites: Everything You Need To Know.

How Do You Identify Termites?

Termite Identification

Here are some quick facts about termites;

    • Termites have straight-pointing beady antennas.
    • They have big heads without any unique body parts.
    • They have a more ribbed surface.
    • Termites are soft white to a pale yellow in color.
    • A swarm of termites can be darker colored, just like various types of ants.
    • The distinction between a reproduction male termite and a flying ant is that the termite’s wings are the same size, while the ant’s wings are not.
    • The existence of termites in your home can be identified by their wood-colored pellet faecal remains.
    • Termites consume wood while ants rearrange the wood and kick it out.


The Termite Life Cycle

Termite life cycle

The termite life cycle follows 3 essential phases: Egg, Nymph, and Adult. Nevertheless, while every termite in a nest will be more-or-less similar in the very first 2 phases, their look and task within the nest will vary substantially depending upon their function in the adult years.

What Are The Functions Within The Termite Lifecycle?

After the nymphal step, a termite will either end up being a worker, a soldier, or a reproductive termite.

Each caste has its own task. Workers develop the nest and feed the other termites, soldiers safeguard the nest from opponents, and reproductive termites have children to increase the nest.

No termite is born to serve one function. Instead, the queen releases scents that trigger each termite to molt into whatever caste that the nest requires. Additionally, a termite that has actually turned into one kind is not always stuck in that function for life.

For example, suppose a nest’s soldiers are eliminated. In that case, the queen will launch scents that turn a few of the workers into brand-new soldier termites, and these can often be reversed into workers once the nest is more safe and secure.

Unlike some other pests, functions within a termite nest are not gendered. While there usually is only one queen and one king of a provided roost, sterilized members of either gender can be designated functions as workers or soldiers.

Let’s take a comprehensive look at the stages of the termite lifecycle and what you as a property owner ought to watch for.

What Are The Stages Of The Termite Life Cycle?

Stage 1: Termite Eggs

This is the first stage in the lifespan of termites.

Termite Eggs being collected
Termite Eggs


Like many pests, the life of a termite starts when a fully grown queen termite lays eggs. An egg cluster looks like caviar, however much smaller sized with an exact white look.

How Do You Identify Termite Eggs?

Termite eggs are technically noticeable to the naked eye. The queen makes sure to lay them in heavily-sheltered locations inside wall interiors or deep in the nest. Eggs are seldom seen by human beings, indicating that they do not act as preliminary signs of a problem in many cases.

When a young termite queen is merely starting her nest, her very first clutch will just include about 2 lots of eggs. The nest’s king will then take control of the obligation to look after them and see the brand-new hatchlings.

As time passes in the termite life cycle and the nest grows, more worker termites will be offered to see the young’s requirements. The nest can experience rapid development. As a result, after a couple of months, egg clutches can turn into hundreds and even thousands.

While the particular incubation duration can differ, the typical termite egg will hatch about a month after being laid. A young termite nymph will emerge.

Stage 2: Termite Nymphs

This is the second stage in the lifespan of termites.

What are Termite Nymphs?

When a termite egg hatches, a pale, blind nymph comes out. While efficient in motion, larvae are still somewhat susceptible. They are totally dependent upon other termites in the nest to make it through.

Like adult termites, nymphs feed upon cellulose stemming from wood and plant products. However, they have no chance of providing for themselves. In young nests that do not have sufficient fully grown worker termites, the duty of feeding and taking care of nymphs is up to the nest’s king.

When adequate larvae grow into worker termites, these workers will then look after newly-hatched spirits. Termite nymphs are thought about as indirect damages. They do not forage directly; however, the termite workers that feed them do. 

How Do You Identify Termite Nymphs?


Termite nymphs are little, often just a tenth of an inch long, with soft, pale-white bodies. While only a little larger than the eggs they hatch from, nymphs frequently look nearly similar to the worker termites that most will ultimately develop into.

What Is The Nymph Molting Procedure?

As a larva grows, it will carry out a molting procedure. What this means is that each nymph establishes a soft inner exoskeleton under its hard external exoskeleton. When the time is right, the nymph sheds the tough outer exoskeleton and the soft exoskeleton gradually solidifies to take the original’s location.

Through the molting procedure, a nymphal termite ultimately grows into a worker, soldier, or reproductive. The function that a nymph develops into is mostly managed by the nest’s queen and king. However, some ecological elements, like temperature level, can also determine it.

How Long Does It Take A Termite Nymph To Grow?

Typically, a nymph will reach maturity after 3-4 molts. However, the procedure is mostly dependant on food existence, nest population, and ecological aspects.

The king and queen of a nest release pheromones that choose which of the 3 adult castes the nymph will end up being based upon the nest’s requirements.

At maturity, a choose couple of nymphs will end up being soldiers and secure the nest from outdoors hazards. Less still will go on to end up being reproductives, forming their own nests. The large bulk will end up being workers.

Stage 3: Adult Termites

 This is the third stage in the lifespan of termites. It involves 3 stages;

  • Termite workers
  • Termite soldiers
  • Termite reproductives

What Are Termite Workers?

As any human society, workers are the foundation of a termite nest, supervising the everyday operations that eventually keep civilization running.

In termite nests, the worker termites are building and construction workers, food makers, and sitters, all rolled into one.

What Do Termite Workers Do?

Termite workers are accountable for foraging, food storage, developing tunnels, and keeping the nest. Workers likewise bear the obligation of absorbing cellulose from wood, leaf litter, soil, and even animal dung.

Workers will then utilize a trophallaxis procedure to feed the cellulose they have actually collected to the nest’s nymph and soldier termites, which cannot provide for themselves.

There is no gender barrier for workers in termite society: worker termites can be male or female. Both are sterilized, though particular tasks can be gender-specific, depending upon the types.

The lifespan of termites who are workers are no longer than 1-2 years. All workers are blind and utilize their antennae to browse.

How Do You Identify Termite Employees?

Termites employees are best identified with their pale white pigmentation. Termite workers look nearly similar to nymphs, but they are larger (anywhere from 2-15 millimeters long) and with a more rugged shell.

The most significant unique aspect between workers and nymphs is that workers are far more active and mobile. They are always scampering, ready to finish their numerous tasks.

Do Worker Termites Cause the Most Damage?

With a termite problem, worker termites are the number one cause of damage. Their only objective is to develop the nest and feed its locals. Their foraging and tunneling habits trigger billions of dollars in damages yearly.

Since their tasks are so diverse and the function they play so is essential, the worker caste is the most populated in any termite nest. If there is a problem, the worker termites are the ones the house owner is more than likely to see in the house’s walls or flooring joists.

What are Termite Soldiers?

Worker termites develop and keep the nest. However, they are not useful in protecting the nest from predators. If the nest has any hope of growing, it requires guardians to secure it. That’s where termite soldiers come in.

Like workers, the lifespan of termites who are soldiers is 1-2 years. They can be male or female, they are blind, and come out after a nymph molts 3-4 times and maturates.

Soldiers are a far more specific caste and comprise just about 10% of any nest. The soldier’s sole function is to protect the nest from opponents. However, attacks on other termite nests are not unusual.

How Do You Identify Termite Soldiers?

soldiers Temites

While termite workers are practically similar to nymphs, termite soldiers are a lot more aesthetically unique. Instead of white, their bodies are yellowish-brown, in some cases even pale red, and they’re physically larger than workers.

Nevertheless, their specifying function is their dramatically-enlarged heads and big, useful mandibles, which they utilize to bite the nest’s opponents. Instead of mandibles, some soldiers will have a horn-shaped nozzle (called a “nasus”) that enables them to spray secretions at opponents.

What Makes Termite Soldiers So Distinct?

Soldier termites within a nest are so distinct from the other castes that often, the types of a whole nest are identified simply by the mandibles and head pigmentation of the soldiers.

Paradoxically, as large and terrifying as the soldier termite’s jaws are, they aren’t produce-consuming, so they count on workers to feed them. Soldiers pay back the workers by safeguarding them while they construct and forage.

Are Termite Soldiers A Threat?

Termite soldiers will bite human beings if dealt with, which can trigger small discomfort and inflammation. They are not known to bring any illness, however, they can still present a danger to a house.

While soldiers are not gathering cellulose, therefore, do not pose a direct threat, they will help worker termites with tunnel repair work by plugging up damaged walls, tunnels, and susceptible powerlessness.

Soldiers interact with the remainder of the nest by tapping their heads against the tunnel walls, sending out caution vibrations throughout the nest. This tapping noise can be audible to human beings, and soft tapping sounds inside a house can be an early indication that an invasion exists.

What Are Reproductive Termites?

Reproductives inhabit the leading caste in termite society, and the whole nest is frequently developed around them. Of all the termite nymphs in a nest, only a couple will end up being reproductives. Like every other caste, young reproductive termites are wingless.

Unlike any other caste, reproductive termites have a restricted capability to see. This is a useful function because unlike the other termites that will remain on or under the ground their whole lives, utilizing their antennae to feel vibrations and browse the surface, young reproductive termites take off.

What Happens When Reproductive Termites Are Old Enough to Mate?

Nevertheless, once they are fully grown to mate, young termite reproductives grow wings and take part in a breeding swarm, referred to as a “nuptial flight.” Throughout this winged, swarming stage, reproductive males and women are called “alates.”

When a male and female reproductive discover an ideal place, they shed their wings, mate, and end up being the king and queen of their brand-new nest. They pull back into their breeding chambers, become mating partners for life, never to go back to the surface area.

What Is The Termite Life Cycle Of The King And Queen?

The king is longer-lived than many others with a termite life cycle of 2-7 years, however, the queen termite lives longer than any other pest worldwide. The lifespan of the termite queen is a minimum of ten years and in some cases going beyond 30.

For the first couple of years, the termite king and queen will usually produce only workers and soldier termites. However, some types will make “backup” reproductives that can control the function of the king or queen if they die.

After 4-5 years, the queen will produce brand-new reproductive termites that will end up being alates. They swarm in the thousands, go on to form their own nests, and the termite life cycle of the reproductives continues.

How Do You Identify Termite Reproductives?

termite queen
termite queen

The king and queen have black pigmentation in the alate kind, with 2 similar sets of wings that enable swarming. After mating, the alate types shed their wings and retreat to the nest’s inmost chambers to form a brand-new nest.

Inside, the wingless king keeps his dark pigmentation. However, he remains about the size of a worker. Simultaneously, the queen’s abdominal area broadens with time, ultimately ending up being numerous times larger than the rest of her body, in a procedure is referred to as “physogastrism.”

Physogastrism permits the queen to lay increasingly more eggs at a time. However, it cuts down her movement, leaving the king with the duty of taking care of the young up until adequate fully grown worker termites are offered.

When the nest initially begins, the queen will lay just about 20 eggs at a time. However, as her abdominal area broadens, she can produce countless eggs every day. After mating, the queen and king termite retreat underground, never to come up again.

If You Have Termites, Can You See The King And Queen?

In short, no. The majority of people experiencing a problem will never ever see the king. Nevertheless, they will likely discover the disposed of wings of the king and queen’s alate types and may see a swarm themselves.

Since flying termites can be among the first signs of a termite invasion, it is necessary to stress the distinctions between flying termites and flying ants. They look fairly similar.

Here are a few of the essential physical qualities of both to help house owners identify the two;

  1. Their post-mating habits are different. While a flying ant males passes away after breeding, flying termite males do not. They shed their wings and go to reside in the nest and mate with the queen for life.

This is a crucial difference because even without seeing the swarm itself, the remaining wings can be among the first indications alerting the property owner of the invasion.

  1. The yearly swarm’s timing can differ by type and even by private nest; however, it typically follows specific beneficial weather.

Particularly, termite alates tend to swarm when the weather condition is warm and damp, indicating that the swarming season mostly falls in spring and early summer. House owners must watch for swarms and disposed of wings around this time.