The queen of a termite colony is responsible for the production and maintenance of eggs.

What Does Subterranean Termite Queens Look Like and How Do They Reproduce?

Colony Queen Termite

Subterranean termite queens can be a variety of colors, from pale yellow-brown or black. Subterranean subterranean species secondary reproductives are usually white or very pale in color, the same as worker termites of that species.

Role of Queen

The role of the queen within a termite colony is dynamic and can change over time. After pairing with a male, she takes on the role of “founder” in order to get the colony going. She must find a nest site suitable for her, excavate it and start producing eggs that will be workers.

Workers enter the royal cell through small holes in its protective wall to feed and groom the queen and king. Queens lay eggs at an even rate each day. Workers transport the eggs to incubator chambers.

Although egg production starts slowly, it increases each year. The queen can maintain peak egg performance for seven to ten years. The colony’s size (number workers) will increase rapidly once the secondary queens, which are born within the colony, start egg-laying.

The queen produces a different number of eggs depending on the species and her age. Although egg production in tropical areas is constant throughout the year, there are seasonal fluctuations. Termite egg production in more temperate areas is usually suspended during the cooler months.

After their hatching, the young immatures are moved to nursery chambers where workers feed and groom them. They are then moved to different chambers within the nest until they molt into soldiers or workers.

In five years, a colony with 1,000 workers can grow to 300,000. The secondary queens are often located in satellite nests that are not connected to the main nest. This allows colonies to grow in size and number.

Primary Reproductive Services

In a colony, the primary reproductives are the queen, king, and alates (termite-swarmers). Sometimes secondary or tertiary reproductions can also produce offspring. These secondary and tertiary reproductions don’t have wings. However, they might have wing buds.

The queen will produce alates when the weather is perfect. These alates will leave the nest and form new colonies.

To form a new colony of winged termites, male and female winged termites first find a nest that is suitable and then hollow it out. The queen then begins to lay eggs and cares about the eggs. After the queen has laid enough eggs to create a worker caste of workers, the workers can begin to care for the eggs and expand the size of their nest.

Secondary and Tertiary Reproductives

Through the production of a hormone, the queen can control the size of the colony and prevent secondary and tertiary reproductions. The queen may allow the development of secondary or tertiary reproductions once the colony has reached a certain size. These females build satellite nests and start laying eggs. The colony will grow exponentially once these satellite nests have been established.

The colony’s original queen is capable of chemically preventing the development of reproductive potential in all colony members. The colony’s king or queen releases a pheromone which circulates throughout the colony and prevents the formation other (secondary), reproductives. The queen produces an inhibitory pheromone that prevents the development of secondary reproductives in females. This substance is carried through the colony by immature stage that regularly eat the feces nestmates.

The production of the blocking hormone ceases after the death of the queen. Secondary reproductives can be made.

Reticulitermes species may have multiple secondary reproductives. The colony could become large due to the increased productivity of many queens.

Queen Termite Longevity

Queen termites have a long life expectancy and are often the longest-lived termites in a colony. Queen termite queens live between 25 and 50 years with peak egg production lasting up to 10 years. The colony will be reborn when the queen dies, and the pheromone that she used to prevent reproductives’ development has stopped being produced.

Size of Queen Termite

Queen termites are usually smaller than worker termites of the same species.

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