What is the Life Cycle of a Termite?

Termites are social insects that live in colonies and breed throughout the year, forming new colonies. In mature colonies in Atlanta, winged reproductives (alates or swarmers) will leave the nest to mate and establish new colonies.

A brief summary of a termite life cycle is as follows:

What is the life cycle of a termite in Atlanta; Call Active Pest Control for Termite Control and Prevention
  1. A male and a female pair (winged reproductives) leave the nest and swarm, dropping their wings to form a new colony and become king and queen.
  2. The queen termite lays her eggs, and young larvae will hatch.
  3. Larvae will molt until they reach maturity in their designated caste, either workers or soldiers.
  4. For several years, the termite will fulfill its specific duties and live out its life performing its various tasks.
  5. When mature, the colony consists of thousands or millions of individuals and will produce nymphs, which turn into alates. The alates then leave the nest swarm, reproduce and start a new colony.

Stages of Termite Life

The onset of 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. Over time the queens’ egg-laying capacity increases and she 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.

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How Long Can Termites Live?

The lifespan of a termite depends on its caste, as well as its species. Generally, 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 to be 4 years.
  • Queen termites can live much longer than any other caste and have been known to survive for twenty years or more under optimal conditions.

How Are Termites Designated into Castes?

Science has not yet determined how a termite is designated into one caste or another, however, each caste has specific duties for the colony’s survival. The soldiers guard the colony but cannot reproduce, fly, or feed themselves. Workers feed the other termites, tend the larvae and young insects, and build tunnels. Lastly, the alates (reproductives) can fly and reproduce, leaving the mature colony to create new colonies.