Whether your home has been invaded by roaches, termites or rodents, you must understand how the pest lives and reproduces to have any chance of eradicating them and reclaiming your home. This is especially important with wood-eating pests like termites, as they largely remain out of sight while carrying out their home-destroying ways.
Termite hatch from their eggs as tiny, white larvae. As the larvae eat and grow, they undergo several molts, during which they shed their outer layers of skin. After completing several molts, they become members of one of three castes:
- Workers – The workers white to off-white in color and small. They are responsible for digging tunnels, collecting food and feeding members of the other castes.
- Soldiers – Soldiers defend the nest from would-be attackers (including members of other termite colonies). They are yellowish brown in color and bear massive heads, adorned with large mandibles.
- Alates – Alates are reproductively active termites, who are dark-brown in color and equipped with wings.
Scientists do not yet fully understand why some larvae become workers, and others become soldiers. However, the colony's needs seem to play a role in the process. For example, if a colony loses a large number of its soldiers to a predator, a group of workers may develop into soldiers.
Workers and soldiers begin carrying out their duties as soon as they complete their final larval molt. Most live for about one year, although some individuals may survive for two years under exceptional circumstances. Alates, by contrast, engage in mating flights shortly after reaching maturity. They leave the colony en masse, fly out into the world and seek out mates.
After mating, both males and females shed their wings and begin seeking out a suitable place to begin a new colony. Once inside a secluded space (usually somewhere underground), the mated female becomes a queen while the male becomes the king. The queen begins laying eggs, as she will continue to do for the rest of her life.
Queens lay thousands of eggs over the course of their lives. She must help tend to the first clutch of eggs that hatches, but these new termites will become workers, who will take care of subsequent egg clutches. Subsequent clutches will yield soldiers and alates, as well as additional workers.
In contrast to workers and soldiers, queens live very long lives. In exceptional circumstances, queens can live for a decade or more.
For further assistance, contact a local termite service, such as Freedom Pest Solutions.