Termite Life Cycle

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Termites, insects that are barely visible to the naked eyes, have some really fascinating facts. Hailing from the order of roaches known as the Blattodea, there are over 2600 species of termites found around the world. Although confused as white ants, termites are actually related to cockroaches. Known as the "Silent destructors," they possess the ability to chew through wood and flooring undetected.
 

Reproduction

The lifecycle starts with a mating flight. During the mating flight, swarming winged female and male termites leave established colonies to reproduce. After mating and fertilization, the winged creatures shed their wings and land to form new settlements. Queen and king play a major role in this phase.

Eggs

A termite's life begins when the Queen lays the eggs. Queen termites can lay as much as 30,000 eggs per day during her reproductive phase. The termite hatches from the egg as a nymph which is a pale white larva.


 

Nymphs

A nymph goes through the process of shedding its exoskeleton to become reproductive. This process is known as Molting. A termite first forms a supple exoskeleton under its current, thick exoskeleton. Its outermost skeleton splits up, and the inner exoskeleton hardens on reaching maturity.

Larvae

Moulting takes place several times, as per the needs of the colony. Larvae take a place in the social system as per their developed abilities.


 

THE EUSOCIAL BEINGS

Termites showcase an interesting social organization within their colonies. As per their responsibilities and role inside the colonies, termites have three major castes- the workers, the soldiers, and the reproductives.


 

Workers

Workers are the wingless, blind, and sterile sect of the colony. They have pale cuticles indicating they need to remain inside a congenial, moist environment. They feed the reproductives and the soldiers, care for the groups, and build the nest. Constituting 90-95 percent of the colony's population.

Soldiers

The Soldier termites are also wingless, blind, and sterile. They have unsclerotized and unpigmented cuticles. Their powerful jaws help them protect the colony from predators. They also secrete a sticky, white liquid to repel other beings. They are “inter-caste," which means they either turn to workers or even the reproductives. Making up 1-3 percent of the colony population.


 

Reproductives​

They possess the highest rank in the hierarchy among the termites. Responsible for propagating the line-up of termites further, they are divided into Alates, De-Alates, and the Queen and King.


 

Bow down to the Queen

From being the "Initiator" of the colony after mating with the king to finding a suitable breeding place to settle, the Queen plays the most important role in the termite colony. The Queen produces eggs for around 7-10 years. They have the capacity to produce thousands of eggs each day. In each colony, there is one primary Queen. Over a period of time, secondary and tertiary reproductives also develop.

The Queen has the power of controlling the size of the colony and can restrict the abilities of other reproductives by producing pheromone. The pheromone prevents development of female reproductive parts. After the Queen dies, pheromone production stops, and a new queen takes her place.


 

Lifespan

The lifespan of a worker and soldier ranges from 1 to 2 years, depending on the climate and the location of the colony. The Queen goes on to live a long life ranging from 25 to 50 years.

Termites might be tiny but possess very interesting abilities.

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