Updated: May 22, 2023

Termites are small insects that live in colonies and feed on cellulose. They are often referred to as “silent destroyers” because they can cause significant structural damage to buildings and wooden structures if left uncontrolled. Understanding their life cycle is important in preventing infestations and controlling them if they occur.

Egg Stage

The termite life cycle begins when a queen lays eggs. Termite queens can lay thousands of eggs each day, depending on the species. These eggs are usually white and oval-shaped and are about the size of a pinhead. After a few weeks, the eggs hatch into larvae.

Larval Stage

Termite larvae are small, white, and worm-like. They are blind and cannot move very far from their place of birth. During this stage, the larvae are fed by workers who regurgitate partially digested wood to them. The larvae will molt several times during their growth, shedding their skin to grow larger.

Pupal Stage

After several molts, the larvae enter the pupal stage. During this stage, they develop into adults. The pupae are soft-bodied and creamy white. They resemble adults but do not have wings yet.

Adult Stage

Once the pupae complete their development, they emerge as adult termites. Adult termites are divided into three castes: workers, soldiers, and reproductives.


Workers make up the majority of the termite colony. They are responsible for feeding the colony, caring for the young, and building and maintaining the nest. Workers are small, wingless, and pale in color.


Soldiers are responsible for defending the colony against predators like ants and other insects. They have large heads with powerful jaws for biting enemies. Soldiers are also wingless and pale in color.


Reproductives are responsible for perpetuating the colony. They are the only termites that can reproduce and have wings. Reproductives are usually darker in color than workers and soldiers.


Once the reproductives mature, they will swarm to mate and start new colonies. These swarms usually occur in the spring or fall when the weather is warm and humid. During a swarm, the winged reproductives fly in search of a mate and a suitable place to start a new colony.

If they find a suitable location, the reproductives will shed their wings and begin to burrow into the soil to start a new nest. Once they have established a nest, they will begin to lay eggs, and the life cycle of termites will start all over again.


Understanding the life cycle of termites is crucial in preventing infestations and controlling them if they occur. By knowing how termites develop from eggs to adults, homeowners can take proactive measures to prevent infestations by removing potential food sources like dead wood and fixing any moisture problems in their homes.

If an infestation is suspected, it’s important to contact a pest control professional who can properly identify the type of termite and create an effective treatment plan based on their life cycle stage. With proper prevention and control measures, termites can be kept under control, reducing the risk of structural damage to homes and buildings.