In order to achieve effective termite control, it is important to know how termites grow and develop. From egg to nymph to adult, each stage has its own characteristics. We’ll examine each stage and explain how it relates to aspects of termite control.
The termite queen (or queens in some species) is the heart and soul of the colony. She lays all the eggs for the colony and determines the makeup of the various castes. A young queen may only lay several dozen eggs per day, but as she reaches maturity, she becomes an egg laying machine. At peak performance, a termite queen may lay up to 30,000 eggs EVERY DAY. Very few stats will help you understand how quickly a colony can grow and become a huge infestation like this one.
When the termite eggs hatch, they are known as nymphs. Termite nymphs go through a process called incomplete metamorphosis. This means that the nymphs look just like the adults, but they do not have the ability to reproduce yet. As they grow and develop, the nymphs will shed their skin (molt) several times. The rate at which their molting occurs is based on things like temperature, food availability, and the current population of the colony.
After the termites have gone through several molts, they will join the caste system. The queen termites is responsible for the determination of class. She controls this by producing or suppressing different pheromones. The vast majority of the termites will become workers. These termites are responsible for gathering food, tending to the young, and expanding the colony. Others may become soldier termites that help to protect the colony. These types of termites can live between 1 and 2 years.
Certain termites will be chosen to be part of the reproductive class. These termites receive better food and undergo even more molts. The future kings and queens are known as alates. When the alates reach maturity and conditions are right, they will leave the colony and take part in a nuptial flight where they will find a mate and start their own colony. Since termites do not typically fly well or very far, these termite swarms are one of the most common signs of a nearby termite infestation and should not be ignored. Ant reproductives also swarm, so learning how to tell the difference between ants and termites is key to determining the correct course of action.
It should be apparent by now that the termite queen is the most important part of the colony because she controls the future growth. This makes termite control particularly difficult because the queen very rarely leaves the safety of the nest and can live and lay eggs for up to 30 years, depending on the species. In fact, termite queens are the longest living insects on earth. Without killing the queen (or queens) you will likely not be able to get a termite infestation under control. Luckily, termite baits can help get to the queen. Termite workers collect and share the food with all the other termites in the colony, including the queen. Slow-acting baits can be passed throughout the colony and prove to be very effective at eliminating the entire nest.
If you are in need of termite control products, try Harris Termite Powder. It works on all wood destroying insects, as well as mold and fungi. We also offer home pest control products to help you get rid of everything from ants and roaches to spiders and rodents. Visit pfharris.com today.
For more information, check out Termites: The Ultimate Guide.