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What is the Life Cycle of a Termite?

Termites have a very unique life cycle. From larvae, termites will molt several times before maturing into its designated caste.

Most termites follow the following trajectory throughout their life.

  1. A male and female reproductive mate and become king and queen.
  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, or a role within the colony.

Life Stages of Termites

The termite life cycle 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.

How Long do Termites Live?

Termites live for different amounts of time due to the caste or role they play within the colony. 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.
  • Queens are able to live much longer than any other caste and have been known to survive for twenty years or more under optimal conditions.

Termite Caste Stages

Experts have not yet discovered how exactly a termite is designated into one caste or another. Research has concluded 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, certain termites may switch castes entirely at some point during the life cycle.

What Is The Life Cycle Of A Termite? in Southern Louisiana

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