Termite colonies can live up to fifty years. During that lifetime it can house several generations of termites. Three different termite castes make up a colony and each has a different life cycle. Here’s an overview of the different termite castes.
Reproductives are the only caste of termite that is able to reproduce. Because of this they are quipped with wings and the ability to see. There are four different types of reproductives: Alates, de-alates, kings and queens, and neotenics. The alates are young reproductive. They have not yet mated. After the alates leave the nest and mate they shed their wings and become de-alates. The de-alates produce only a limited number of eggs. They have to wait for the newly formed colony to be large enough to support increased growth. After the colony has grown the de-alates transition into kings and queens. At this stage they can lay up to 1000 eggs every day. The neotenics assist the queen as she lays eggs during peak egg production. If a queen dies, a neotenic will take her place.
Soldiers termites are sterile, wingless and blind. Using their powerful jaws to fight, they are the defenders of the colony. They emit a white sticky substance that repels any colony invaders. The soldier termites are not capable of feeding themselves. Sustenance is received via a worker termite. Soldier termites only live for one to two years.
Worker termites are sterile, wingless, and blind and perform the vital tasks for the colony. They build the nest, excavate galleries, gather food, and also feed the reproductive termites and soldier termites of the colony. A worker termite lives for only one to two years.
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