Termites are a nightmare for homeowners, and they cause billions of dollars of damage to property in the United States each year. If you own a home or business, you probably already know how to look for tell-tale signs of an infestation, like discarded wings on windowsills or mud tubes snaking up the side of your building. But do you know how to identify baby termites? Knowing some facts about baby termites may help you stop a termite infestation.
A baby termite starts as an egg. Termite colonies are founded when a queen termite finds a mate. They find a good nest site and excavate it, and then the queen begins the job of producing eggs to populate the colony. The egg production starts slow, but the queen produces more and more eggs each year. These eggs grow to be workers who groom and feed the queen and king. The royal pair stays in a cell with a hard, protective wall, and the queen lays eggs steadily every day. A queen termite can keep laying eggs at peak production for seven to ten years. After a while, though, secondary queens are established in the colony, and they begin laying eggs as well. The colony grows rapidly, and a colony with 1,000 workers in its second year can have 300,000 workers in five more years. Suffice it to say; baby termites have many siblings.
Termite eggs look a little like caviar, except they range from white to yellow to transparent. You’re not likely to see termite eggs unless you happen to disturb a colony, because they’re well-protected within the nest. They’re grouped; usually a dozen or more in one place, sheltered from harm. Once they hatch, baby termites are taken to nursery chambers, where workers feed and groom them.
One thing that’s interesting about termites is that their life cycle isn’t the same as most other insects’ life cycles. For the majority of insects, the life cycle is simple. It goes egg, larvae, pupa, and then moves into adult developmental stages. Termites don’t quite follow this pattern. The eggs hatch into tiny whitish larvae, known as termite nymphs. Straight out of their eggs, these nymphs look like miniature termites, not as you might expect larvae to look.
If you didn’t know what you were looking at, you might think that baby termites were white baby ants. They’re very tiny, which makes sense because adult termites typically only grow to be ¼ to ½ of an inch long. These tiny termite nymphs pale white to white, and they have antennae that point straight out. They’ve got thick waists, and their wings are all the same size. Typically, you won’t see baby termites because the workers protect them. If you do see them, they’re likely to be near the termite eggs. It’s not very long after they hatch that they’re moved to other chambers, and only a little while later that they start to swarm.
What’s a baby termite’s destiny? Termite nymphs can develop into any of the four types of adult termites. Over time, they molt several times, shedding their exoskeletons as their body size increases. Eventually, they start to have characteristics that distinguish them from other termites in the colony. If you were to ask a baby termite what it wanted to be when it grew up, there would only be four roles for it to choose: swarmers, workers, soldiers, queens. Most baby termites develop into swarmers, also called alates. These are the termites whose purpose it is to fly away and establish new colonies. Some of these swarmers will eventually become queens. Termite nymphs that don’t develop wings will grow into workers or soldiers. Workers are responsible for foraging for food and building and maintaining the nest and mud tubes. Soldier termites are in charge of defending their territories.
So are baby termites harmful, or are they innocent little creatures? The truth is, baby termites can’t damage your structures because they can’t feed themselves. This doesn’t mean they won’t eat pieces of your house, though, when the worker termites bring them food. And remember, baby termites only stay babies for a short time. They eventually grow into adult termites, whose destructive eating habits can wreak havoc on your home. No matter what size of termite is on your property, they need to be identified and eradicated as swiftly as possible, before they can cause too much harm.
Knowing how to identify the signs of a termite infestation, including termites in every life stage, is an important part of keeping your home termite-free. What’s even more important, though, is to schedule an annual professional termite inspection. If it’s time for a termite inspection, it’s time to call MightyMite. At MightyMite Termite Services, we perform termite inspections to ensure that your home is free of termites. We also work hard to help you keep your home safe from termites, using naturally derived treatments, and have a low impact on the environment. We diagnose and treat infestations with the most effective methods and unmatched warranties, solving your termite problems the first time, with an industry-best “no call-back rate.” Combined with our experience, technology, and highly trained professional staff, that makes us the leading extermination company in the Bay Area. We understand that your home is your most important investment, so we work hard to provide excellent service, utilizing best practices to solve our customers’ termite problems in Northern California. For more information, call us today at 408.335.7053, email Info@mightymitetermite.com, or contact us through our website.