Understanding Termite Colonies and How They Spread


PestBear’s Blog

Termites live in social systems that are elaborate in structure. Typically, there is a queen, a king, workers and soldiers. Some species have multiple kings and queens, though this is rare. Worker and soldier termites are sterile. Unlike other colony/hive insects (ants, bees, etc.), termites have both genders in the worker and soldier classes.

Family Size

Queen termites can lay up to 10,000 eggs in just one day, which is how some colonies can grow to numbers in the low millions. More often than not, they opt to keep colonies much smaller…around a few hundred thousand. Though the king and queen are the sole breeders for a colony, some species are able to change some nymph-stage termites into reproductive males and females should the king and queen need some assistance, or are no longer able to reproduce.

The caste system is closely regulated, within a colony, with a preferred ratio of soldiers to workers to nymphs that is consistently maintained. Should any members of a particular caste be lost, nymphs can develop into the desired form as necessary.

Formation and Development

Most termite colonies are formed through winged adults (alates) being dispersed during particular seasons of the year, usually when humidity is high and breezes are reliable. As alates are weak fliers, a lack of atmospheric assistance via wind or updrafts can greatly limit their long-distance mobility. Upon reaching a destination, alates will lose their wings, and partner up with a mate to find a new venue to call home and begin reproducing.

Depending on the species, there can be more than one emergence during a single season.

The first generations of offspring will be workers or soldiers. It isn’t until colonies are fully mature that winged adults begin to develop. During the beginning phases, the parental termites tend to feeding the young and taking care of the nest. As colonies mature, the offspring will pick up these duties. In time, this colony will begin contributing to the spreading of the swarm during expansion time.

Alternate Colonizing

Another common method of formation is just a simple division, be it an accident or a decision. In both cases, members of a colony migrate to a new site and develop reproducing members afterwards.

If you suspect that you may have termites in your home, or on your property, contact PestBear and our team will be happy to inspect the area.

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