What is the Life Cycle of a Termite?
The termite life cycle generally follows this trajectory:
- Male and female reproductives mate and establish a new colony
- The queen termite lays the eggs she has been producing
- Larvae hatch from the eggs and develop into nymphs. Nymphs can molt up to three times before reaching maturity
- Once mature, the termite is assigned a caste, which is a specific role within a colony
The Termite Life Cycle
Termite life begins when the reproductive caste, also known as alates or swarmers, swarm to form new colonies. After a male and female mate, reproductives shed their wings and the new king and queen excavate a small chamber in the soil underground, where the queen begins to lay eggs.
The queen termite can lay up to 30,000 eggs in a day. Her eggs hatch into larvae. From there, they become nymphs. Nymph termites will molt three times before being assigned as a reproductive, worker, or soldier.
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How Long Do Termites Live?
Different termite castes have different life spans:
- Worker and soldier termites live for one to two years
- Reproductive termites, also known as alates or swarmers, live for nearly four years
- Termite queens can survive for up to 20 years or more under ideal conditions
When Do Termites Get Designated into a Caste?
It is still unknown how exactly termites are designated to a caste. Research suggests that the designation depends on social and environmental cues based on the needs of the colony. Scientists have also speculated that termites can switch castes at any point depending on the needs of the colony.