Termites are one of the most common springtime pests and biggest threats to homes, garages, and other wooden structures on your property. That’s not the only reason termites shouldn’t be taken lightly, though.
Termites are also one of the most successful groups of insects on Earth.
Their ability to survive longer than most insects — combined with their habit of remaining hidden behind wooden structures — often causes their presence to go unnoticed until significant damage has already been done to the structure they’ve infested.
These little insects don’t die in a month like the common house fly either. The expected lifespan of a termite is an answer that may surprise you.
While worker and soldier termites have been shown to live between one and two years, what sustains the growth of the colony are the termite queens.
“Termite queens are amazing insects,” pest and wildlife expert Paul Dube said. “They are very resilient and can even outlive humans.” Incredibly, termite queens have the longest lifespan of any insect in the world and can survive several decades, even up to 30 to 50 years under ideal warm conditions.
This allows for rapid growth of a colony, as well as sustainability long after a queen dies.
Termite Life Cycle & Life Stages
Termites are often compared to ants, but the life cycle of termites greatly differs from that of an ant.
The typical termite life cycle begins with an egg, but is unique from an ant or bee in that termites go through incomplete metamorphosis, with egg, nymph, and adult stages.
The nymphs are like small adults and go through a series of molts as the grow. Depending on the species of termite, eggs have four molting stages, while nymphs endure three stages.
First, nymphs molt into workers, with some of these workers continuing to molt into soldiers or swarmers. Workers are responsible for building the colony and making any needed repairs, while soldiers are sterile and primarily protect the colonies.
Swarmers are reproductives and are responsible for mating, eventually becoming king and queen termites after reproducing.
The process of molting from a nymph into an adult can take several months depending on the availability of food, temperature, as well as the size of the colony. The workers feed the nymphs since they are unable to feed themselves, while at the same time, workers are responsible for foraging, building, or repairing the nest.
To prevent other workers from becoming fertile queens, pheromones throughout the colony make it so that only a select few termites can become queens.
In the early stages of the colony, queen termites only lay 10 to 20 eggs, however, as the colony matures, queen termites can lay as many as 1,000 eggs per day. As for the king, he remains in the nest and continues to mate with the queen. If a queen is no longer present, king termites produces pheromones that attract replacement queens.
So, now that you understand the incredible capabilities of termites to survive and rapidly grow their colonies, it’s important that you handle a termite infestation as soon as it becomes present. Once termites have found a suitable location for a colony, they’re not going anywhere.
Think you might be experiencing a termite infestation? Or simply want to take preventive measures to ensure the wood in your home, shed, or deck are termite-free? Learn more about our Termite Control Program or contact our experienced pest professionals to schedule your cost-free inspection today.