Termites are a very big problem for most property owners in the United States. In fact, termites cost property owners about $5 billion dollars’ worth of damage each year and over 600,000 homes are affected.
With this amount of money and damage done, one would wonder how can termites spread so quickly and cause so much destruction. The answer? Termite queens.
The Termite Colony Structure
To understand what the termite queen’s role is, we have to first understand the social structure of a termite colony. The most common types of termites in the United States are, subterranean and drywood. Termites like the subterranean termite, live in colonies, which isn’t uncommon from most social insects, like caterpillars or beetles.
However, what differentiates subterranean termites from other insects is that each termite is designated a task in the colony. The termites work together in their different roles (workers, soldiers, reproductives) which profits the colony as a whole.
How does a termite become queen?
A colony begins usually when the king and queen shed their wings to start a family. This happens when the male and female termites that are able to reproduce fly in a swarm together. After the swarm ends, a termite couple, the king and queen, will settle into a place where there is a source of wood and other necessities to survive.
How long does a termite queen live?
Most American termite queens can live can live up to 20 years, given the species. Termites cannot reproduce until the colony is at least three years old. A subterranean queen might only be able to lay three eggs in the first colony year alone, while a Formosan queen can lay 15-30 eggs.
How do termites reproduce?
Termite reproduction can differ from species to species, subterranean termites, which make up 95% of the US termite population will produce a growing number of winged swarmers. These swarmers will eventually become kings and queens. These specified termites will lose their wings after they find a mate.
While the king termite will stay the same after their wings are gone, the queen will swell up in size as she begins to reproduce. Over the years this type of termite queen will stretch to 14.5mm and can produce up to 500 offspring a year!
How many years does it take termites to damage a property?
There is a good reason why termites are called the “silent killer” insect, and that is because colonies can take up to five years before they start doing damage. These mature colonies can have up to 60,000 workers with their soldiers feasting on infested wood.
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