What’s the Life Cycle of Termites?

To Fight Your Enemy, You Must Know Your Enemy

As the old saying goes, you need to “know your enemy” to fight it effectively. Nowhere is this more true than in the age-old fight against termites. These subterranean pests infest thousands of structures across Arizona and cause millions of dollars in damage each year. In fact, they’re routinely cited as the state’s top urban pest. Fortunately, termites aren’t difficult to understand: They have a well-defined life cycle that provides clues as to when and where they’ll be active.

Basic Attributes of Termites

Like ants, termites are colonial insects that live in communities of many thousands of individuals. Termite colonies include several types of highly specialized “castes,” including reproductives, soldiers and workers. Like ant colonies, termite colonies are managed and replenished by a queen whose sole job is to reproduce. However, new colonies can form in response to certain conditions. This creates opportunities for termites to infest previously untouched areas—and may lead to headaches for unsuspecting homeowners.

Early Stages of the Colony

When a colony first forms, it’s typically quite small. Its members spend the first several years consolidating their strength and slowly building their numbers. At this point, the colony typically relies on localized sources of food like piles of firewood and naturally occurring tree stumps.

In Arizona, the most damaging termite colonies belong to subterranean termites. As their name suggests, they’re rarely seen above ground and can quietly damage human structures without detection. It typically takes several years for a subterranean termite colony to grow large enough to produce its own reproductives. Once it does, however, it has the ability to seed new colonies in surrounding areas.

The Life Stages of a Termite

Regardless of caste, individual termites go through several life stages. These include:

  • Eggs: The queen lays eggs that develop with the help of worker termites
  • Larvae/Nymphs: Hatched termites are small, lice-like creatures that lack wings and require basic assistance from workers
  • Young adults: These are “teenage” termites that are beginning to develop wings and other caste-specific body parts but have yet to take on full responsibility within the colony
  • Adults: Adult termites perform the functions of their caste until their death.

However, it’s important to note that no individual termite—with the possible exception of the queen—is indispensable. The colony’s survival is paramount. For homeowners, this means that mitigation efforts need to address the whole colony, not just individuals.

Pest Control Experts in Phoenix and Tucson

Are you frustrated by a persistent termite infestation that doesn’t seem to respond to any countermeasures? You’re not alone. Thousands of Arizona homeowners must deal with termites on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the predictability of these pests’ life cycles doesn’t make them any easier to live with. That’s why Burns Pest Elimination is happy to provide a range of pest control services across Arizona. To learn more about how we can help you, visit our website!