Termite Life Cycle

Picture of Termites on Dirt

New England Termites

Eastern Subterranean Termites are a common problem in New England homes. These insects belong to a caste system that adapts to the needs of the colony. All termites are born the same, but develop into workers, soldiers, or swarmers during the termite life cycle.

Termite Life Cycles & Castes

The queen of a colony begins the termite life cycle by laying eggs. She can lay up to 1,000 eggs per day, which is why some termite colonies grow so quickly.

The eggs then hatch into larvae. Over time, a larva will molt, transforming to fit into one of several roles:


Workers, the largest caste, locate food to feed the colony along with a variety of other jobs. They are small and creamy white in appearance.

Workers do not expose themselves to light, as they live inside infested wood. The worker termite life cycle typically lasts about one to two years.


The termites in this role are about the same size as workers and have brown heads. Their large, strong jaws allow them to protect the colony from potential threats. The soldier termite life span is around one to two years.


Termites that become part of the reproductive caste transform into nymphs first. They then grow wings and set out in search of a mate. Few are able to find conditions suitable to reproduce and, as a result, die early in life.

While her offspring have relatively short life spans, the queen termite life cycle may last decades under the right conditions. Because the nest continues to grow as long as its queen produces eggs, colonies can expand to include up to a million members.

Getting Rid of Termites

Reproductive termites are the only caste that homeowners are able to see without inspecting infested wood. Colonies mature enough to reproduce are often already several years old.

If applied correctly, pesticides can reduce the number of these insects. However, established colonies often require expert control to stop the termite life cycle. The team at Waltham Pest Services has the right training and equipment help with termite problems.

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