What Is The Termite Life Cycle?
By Frank Reece
Termites are a big pest in warm areas, and can destroy homes and other buildings. They're also a problem for
certain crops. If you're worried about the danger of termites in your home, learning as much as you can about them
will make controlling them easier. You'll be able to tell if you have termites, determine what kind you have, and
decide what to do about them. Knowing how termites reproduce and expand their colony will help you understand why
they're so difficult to control. Here's some information about the termite life cycle to make things easier.
There are three basic castes of termites. Each performs its own function, and has a specialized body design for
this purpose. These castes are the reproductive caste, the soldiers, and worker termites. Workers are the most
numerous, and don't reproduce, much like the more familiar worker bee. Unlike bees, however, worker termites are
both male and female. They're merely sterile because the queens and kings perform the reproductive duties.
Worker termites have soft, unpigmented bodies and must stay in a moist, dark environment. These insects are
responsible for building the nest, obtaining food (wood and other plant matter), and caring for immature termites.
They also feed the other castes. Worker termites live for a year or two.
Soldier termites are also sterile, wingless and blind. They're soft-bodied and lack pigment as well. However,
unlike workers, they have powerful jaws and the ability to "spit" a sticky white chemical to repel intruders. These
insects can't feed themselves and are totally reliant on workers. There are usually many fewer soldier termites
than there are workers, but there are more soldiers than reproductives. Since the soldiers are very distinctive
between species, looking at them can help you decide what kind of termites your area has. This can tell you what to
do about them, since some species are controlled differently than others.
Reproductives, or kings and queens, exist to expand the colony. After a mating flight, the queens tend to expand to
a very large size, and are limited in mobility. They produce eggs and are tended by workers. Pheromones produced
by the queens keep the colony functioning properly, and prevent other termites from turning into queens.
The termite life cycle starts out with the egg laid by the queen. This egg hatches into a nymph, or immature
termite. Eventually, the individual nymph will develop into one of the three castes. However, this isn't
necessarily a permanent designation. In the absence of enough workers, a soldier might become one. If there aren't
enough queens, one of the soldiers may also turn into a reproductive caste.
Understanding termites is an important part of controlling them. If you're concerned about the possibility of a
termite infestation in your home, pay attention to what you see, and learn everything you can. That way, you'll
have the best chance of dealing with them.
Frank Reece has been in the industry for 25 years. You can find his articles on www.linkmyarticles.com
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