Notorious for their destructive abilities, termites have quite a fascinating life cycle that integrates the caste system. And just like most common insects, they undergo metamorphosis stages—from egg, nymph, and adult.
First off, the termite life cycle starts during a mating flight, wherein winged reproductives or alates leave their original colony to procreate and establish a new colony. These flights happen during warm weather, usually in spring and autumn. Once an ideal nesting site is found, the mating pair (the new king and queen) land and shed their wings, hollow out a small mating chamber, and the queen starts to lay eggs.
These termite eggs then hatch into larvae and moult (shed exoskeletons) to assume the role of any of the three castes—workers, soldiers, and reproductives. Depending on which caste a termite belongs, it starts to develop physical features that come handy in accomplishing its caste’s responsibilities. A nymph is a young termite that is moulting several times to become a reproductive.
Development into adulthood usually takes several months, and is dependent on food, temperature and the size of the colony. To keep the colony’s correct balance of termites performing every duty, the queen and or king termite produces hormones or pheromones that prevent the workers from becoming queens.
Also, since a termite colony’s needs are constantly changing, a termite’s role may as well change over time. If that’s the case, a termite nymph may be developed into whichever form is required at the time. However, the king and queen termites remain to be the focal point of the termite life cycle, as they are exclusively in-charge of reproduction. The queen particularly, can produce around 10-20 eggs during the early phases of a colony, and increases to more than 1000 eggs daily after many years.