The queen, king and alates (termite swarmers) are considered the primary reproductives in a colony. In some cases, secondary or tertiary reproductives also can produce offspring. These secondary or tertiary reproductives do not have wings, although they may have wing buds.
When weather conditions are optimal, the queen produces alates, which will leave the nest to form new colonies.
When male and female winged termites mate to form a new colony, they first locate a suitable nest and hollow it out. Then, the queen begins laying eggs and cares for the first eggs. Once the queen lays enough eggs to establish a worker caste, the workers will begin caring for the eggs and expanding the size of the nest.
Secondary and Tertiary Reproductives
The queen is able to control the colony’s size and prevent the formation of secondary and tertiary reproductives through the production of a pheromone. Once the colony reaches a certain size, she may permit the development of secondary and tertiary reproductives. These reproductives create satellite nests near the colony and begin laying eggs. Once these satellite nests are established, the colony will begin to grow at an exponential rate.
What Do Subterranean Termite Queens and Reproductives Look Like?
A subterranean termite queen can vary in color from pale yellow-brown to black. Secondary reproductives in subterranean species are typically white or very light in color – the same color as worker termites for that species.
Picture of Queen Termite in Colony:
Queen Termite Lifespan
A queen termite has a long lifespan and is typically the oldest termite in the colony. Termite queens can live 25 to 50 years, with peak egg production for up to 10 years. When the queen dies and the pheromone she uses to block reproductives’ development is no longer produced, a new queen will develop in the colony.
Queen Termite Size
A queen termite is usually slightly larger in size than a worker termite of the same species.