Termite Life Cycle: Everything You Need to Know

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Termite Life Cycle: Everything You Need to Know

How Long Is A Termite Lifespan?

How long the termites live can be a difficult question to answer. A termite’s life span is depending on its social order in the castes of the colony. It also varies from species to species, from 20-50 years.

Workers and soldier termites can live up to two years. The queen termite’s lifespan is a decade or more depending on the climate conditions. The worker termites’ job is to gather and feed the colony members, keeping the nest, and caring for young. The soldier’s job is to protect the termite colony, and the reproductive termites are the sexually mature members of the colony beside the queens and the kings. 

Termite Life Cycle

The termite life cycle starts from the queen laying the egg. It can lay eggs for about 20,000 to 30,000 per day. The termite lifespan begins when the eggs hatch as a nymph. When they grow, they will be part of the termite life social structure, including the workers, soldiers, and reproductives to become the new queen of the newly established colony.

The queen of termite can prevent the development of other queens using pheromones that she keeps within the colony. The colony’s growth can populate the colony, making no room for the queen termite’s capacity to lay eggs. In this stage, she will allow a few nymphs to develop into secondary reproductives or supplemental queens. This allows the colony to continue to grow and thrive.

When the queen dies, the pheromone will not be present, and the new queen will develop, and the colony survives.

Long Live The Queen

Eastern subterranean termites are the most common species found in the United States, and their queen can live up to 30 years, but the average life span is 15-17 years. However, for African species of termites, the queen can live up to 50 years, while for drywood termites, the queen can only live 10-12 years old.

Workers and soldiers can live up to two years. The queen termite’s lifespan is a decade or more depending on the climate conditions. The worker termites’ job is to gather and feed the colony members, keeping the nest, and caring for young. The soldier’s job is to protect the termite colony, and the reproductives are the sexually mature members of the colony besides from the queens and the kings.

Whatever order in the termite life cycle, termites mean trouble. If ever you suspect a termite infestation, or you found any termite damage, make sure to call an expert as soon as possible. There are three main termite species that are found in the U. S. They are drywood, subterranean and Formosan termites. Each species can usually be identified by the appearance of the swarmers, the damage, and the droppings left behind. Drywood and subterranean are the most common types of termite species, while subterranean causes 95% of the termite-related damage. Both of them are fed on cellulose, which is found in wood or wood-based products.

Termites are known to be the cause of major wood- structural damages in the southern United States. According to some estimates, about $2 billion is spent annually for pest control, prevention, and treatment.

Mating Flight

The termite life cycle starts from the mating flight. The winged reproductive males and females swarm, leaving their nests to create a new colony and reproduce. After fertilization, the winged termites land and shed their wings to form new colonies. Then these reproductives become the king or queen termites, which are the center of the life cycle of termites.


After the queen lays her eggs, they hatch into pale white larvae or the termite babies.


The eggs hatched into larvae and molted to become workers, soldiers, or reproductive termites of the colony. The nymph or baby termites are young members who go through molts, a stage where it sheds its exoskeletons and becomes a reproductive.

The termites baby develops a soft exoskeleton under the hard exoskeleton. When it reaches maturity, the outer exoskeleton splits open. Then it will be replaced by the new exoskeleton, which later enlarges and hardens. This process goes on throughout the termite’s life cycle according to the needs of the colony.


After several molts, the termite baby will develop to become one of the three castes, the workers, soldiers, or reproductives, which are also known as alates.

How Long Does it Take for Termites to Do Damage?

Termites need moisture to live. When exposed to direct sunlight and open-air in a few minutes, they will die. That is why they have tunnels called mud tubes as their protection from these elements. So they like to live in areas where there is high moisture like basements and crawl spaces. It serves as a starting point of their infestation.

It is still not clear how long precisely the damage from termite infestation upon discovery, especially for houses or buildings that are not occupied. A termite colony can reach its full maturity at around 3-5 years. The worker termites are responsible for the damage as they infest wood products as they search for food that contains cellulose. Some of their food are wood, paper products, and cardboard.


There is no exact way to measure the termite infestation presence, according to North Carolina State University. If you can identify the reference point of when the area was not yet infested, you can estimate the infestation age. With a massive number of colonies with around 60,000 to 2 million termites, a termite infestation can damage a short period of time. A 2×4 inch lumber, termites, can consume it in 5 months. When termites infest a building, the damage will likely appear in 3 to 5 years, depends on the size of the colony.


  • You will be able to identify the termite damage if you are aware of the signs of termite infestation, including hollow sound when you tap on a piece of wood with a heavy object. 
  • The painted walls appear to peel or bubble. 
  • Termites pass-through underneath paper products or drywall. They left small entry holes and faint lines of the interior tunnel. 
  • You may also find dirt on the wall left by the subterranean termites if their bodies had made contact with soil.


The United States spends around $2 billion annually to protect them from termite infestation. A termite colony matures in three to five years, and it has winged members that fly out of their nests producing swarms in search of a new site to create new colonies.


A lot of pests cannot survive in your home. They may have come by in an accident, and they have to leave as they can’t find any food. But that is not the case for termites, as your home is the food they eat. If they can find a way to your house, they will feed for years as they are allowed to or until their colony is discovered. Taking an in-depth look at the life cycle of the termite enables you to determine how long the termites live. Besides that, you will know the patterns of termite infestation, so you know how to detect their presence.

Knowing the termite infestation as early as possible will prevent further damage to your home. If possible, you should not risk waiting for any termite signs before you act. Consider asking help for termite inspection from the pest control professionals. You can ask for some prevention tools, so you don’t have to worry about termites thriving in your house.

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