The Termite Life Cycle

In certain temperate and warm climates termites and termite damage are a serious problem. In general the damage from termites costs over a billion dollars annually. It makes sense that if your house is in an area at risk from termites then you should be aware of the dangers ands the practical steps that you can take to make your property as termite proof as possible. Once you understand that once an infestation of termites has taken hold that they are extremely difficult to control and eradicate then it makes more sense to pay attention to the preventative measures that you can take.

To understand termites it is necessary to understand the life cycle of the termite, how it reproduces and when. A termite's life cycle is standard how the nest develops does to some extend depend on the prevailing conditions. If the conditions are favorable then the termites nest will grow exponentially; and this will become apparent when you understand how a termite's nest grows.

There are three types of termites in a nest they have specialized bodies because their functions are different. There is a single Queen, and then there are the termites that reproduce the soldiers and the largest group the workers. The workers are the majority because they carry out the most diverse tasks. The workers do not guard the nest against predators or reproduce, but they have to do all the other basic tasks. They provide the food for all and take care of the underdeveloped termites. Workers' are hermaphrodite which means that they have the characteristics of both male and females, but they are sterile because the Queen and the reproducers create new termites to be hatched.

The workers have to be in a warm humid and dark environment as the light damages their nearly translucent bodies. When they obtain food they seek out wood, cellulose or plant materials as well as crops. As well as getting food and nurturing the underdeveloped termites they have also to maintain the nest and expand it to make it safe for the growing colony. Dry wood termites' nests take several years to develop to their full capacity. However subterranean termites are more aggressive and they can establish a new nest very quickly. There life span is between one and two years, but they are expendable because of their large numbers.

The soldier termites are also soft bodies, sterile, wingless and blind. Their strength is their ability to spit a protective sticky white gooey substance to repel any attack from predators; they have no defense against chemicals. As they are blind they are helpless and totally reliant on the workers to care for them. Numerically they are second on the pecking order there are less of them then workers but more than reproductives.

The soldier termites vary more than the other types between species so they can be important in establishing what type of termites that you have because different species of termites are controlled in different ways.

The top dog in the termite world is the king and queens they are there to expand the numbers of termites. They have no other function but to hatch other termites. If they die then the workers who have the characteristics of both sexes can take over their job. However under normal circumstances they produce hormones or pheromones which prevent the workers from becoming Queens which would upset the balance of the colony. Once the Queen has established herself in a new nest then she sits back and grows enormous with new eggs to be hatched. Some termite queens can lay two thousand eggs a day ready to be hatched.

The egg hatches into an immature termite which is actually correctly referred to as a nymph. This will grow to become a worker, soldier or reproductive. However no role is necessarily permanent one of the strengths of the termites which means that they do survive and get stronger is the fact that their gender and function can be reassigned. That means if the colony is short of reproductives the workers can take over their job.

Understanding the strength of the termites and why they reproduce the way they do will make it easier for you to understand that prevention is the best step to control termites.

Termite Home | About | Privacy Statement | Contact Us
By Frank Reece. Page last modified Nov. 10, 2008.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Strict