A termite colony is divided up according to caste, and every member of the colony plays a specific role. There are workers, soldiers, and reproductives/royalty. They all have different colors and identifying characteristics, as well as life spans.
Worker termites are smaller, and they serve a lot of roles in the colony. They are responsible for gathering food for the colony, constructing the tunnels and chambers of the colony, and for feeding and grooming the other castes.
Soldier termites are yellow-brown and have dramatically enlarged heads and large mandibles. These are useful for combat, and also for tearing apart wood. But because the mandibles are so large they render the soldier termite incapable of feeding itself. Because of this the workers help to feed them.
Reproductive alates are darkest in color and are born with two pairs of wings. The reproductives produce and tend to the young larvae. The king and queen are the primary reproductives, and are responsible for establishing a colony. The queen termite is integral to establishing the colony. She not only populates it, but maintains it. During her lifetime, she will lay a million eggs. Because of this she is attended to other worker termites. And in her lifetime she will lay millions in eggs. She can also reach 100-times the size of the worker termites because she is full of eggs, and because her job is solely to produce eggs.
Worker and soldier termites live approximately one to two years. Queen termites can survive for over a decade if conditions are optimal. In fact, a well cared-for for termite queen can live up to 50 years!
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