How termite colonies are established

termite colony

Termites live in a colony, just like ants, and have specific roles for helping to maintain the colony.

There is a queen and king, soldiers and workers, and alates (or winged termites).

A new termite colony is started when males and females leave their colony to mate. During the mating period, both males and females have wings and fly around in order to find a mate and a location to establish their new colony.

After finding a location to establish a colony, such as in the ground in the crawl space under your California home, or in one of the 2 by 4s used as the home’s frame and support structure, the queen termite starts to lay eggs and, eventually, they hatch.

Initially, the newly hatched termites are in the larval stage and still not ready to assume a specific role. Larvae go through several molts, where the outer hard exterior shells are shed and new ones grown as they become bigger.

Eventually the termites assume one of the three roles to help support the termite colony.

  1. Workers
    Termite workers have the primary task of feeding and grooming the other termites, and building and maintaining the colony’s interior chambers and tunnels. These chambers and tunnels could be in the interior of wood, or in the ground. Additionally, worker termites will chew through plastic, plaster, and other materials just to find wood, and may travel as far as 250 feet away from the main colony.
  2. Soldiers
    Termite soldiers are responsible for protecting the colony from unwanted guests and protecting the queen. They have a larger mandible and head than the other types of termites, in order to defend the colony.
  3. Alates
    The alates are responsible to help the queen with growing the colony. While the queen continues to lay more eggs, the alates also lay eggs, which are fertilized by the king, to help the colony grow faster.

Termite colonies last years

Termites have fairly long life cycles when they are not disturbed and are allowed to expand their colonies freely. The queen can live for up to a decade or slightly longer, while other termites live between one to two years. Termites are able to adapt to the changing needs of the colony, which helps contribute to their longevity. For example, if the colony needs more workers, termites in other roles adapt and take on the responsibility of a worker.

Over the course of ten years, termite colonies expand and branch off into numerous sub-colonies. Winged males and females leave the initial colony and set off to establish their own colonies, often close by the original colony. Even after the original colony’s queen dies, the colony does not cease to exist. The alates continue to leg eggs to support the colony until a new queen is selected.

Further, each newly established sub-colony has its own queen continuing the cycle of colony growth and expansion.

Schedule a termite inspection if you have termite colonies

If you believe you have termite colonies living in your California home contact us, here at Pacific Coast Termite today, by calling 1-800-PACIFIC (1-800-722-4342) or completing our inspection form online.