At the center of the termite colony, both literally and figuratively, is the termite queen. The queen is the most important member, and activity within the colony revolves around her. For unfortunate homeowners who must deal with a termite infestation, the queen is of utmost importance. Without eliminating the queen, you cannot hope to get rid of the problem. Understanding termite queen behavior takes center stage in control efforts, so let’s take a closer look at this royal pest.
Termite queens are responsible for reproduction and growth within a colony. Depending on the species, there may be only one queen or there may be many queens. They are usually brownish-yellow to dark brown in color and in some species can grow up to 4 inches long! The main job of the queen is to produce eggs so that the colony can continue to survive. When a queen has reached full maturity and is at peak egg production, one queen can produce up to 40,000 eggs in a single day, depending on the species.
All of those eggs take an effect on the termite’s body, and the queen is often so swollen with eggs, that she is unable to move. This makes it necessary for the workers to take care of the queen and meet all of her needs. The queen, however, will long outlive her individual workers. Queens typically live between 25 and 50 years! In fact, termite queens hold the record for the longest living insects on earth. That means that she will produce millions of eggs in her lifetime and could be responsible for the start of hundreds of new colonies.
A termite queen full of eggs
The Nuptial Flight
While most termites are sterile workers that never leave the colony, termite queens continue the species by also producing new reproductives that will start their own colonies. These young reproductives are known as alates. Alates are winged termites that will engage in a nuptial flight, meaning they will swarm away from the nest to create a new colony. These swarms generally occur once or twice a year. A male and female alate will find a good spot to start a colony, mate, and then the young queen will start the egg laying process all over again. These swarms are an important sign of termites to watch for if you are worried about an infestation. Although these young reproductives have wings, they are poor flyers and will not typically go far from the original nest. If you are seeing termite swarms, chances are good that an infestation is close by and you should be extra vigilant in termite prevention and monitoring practices.
Termite Queens and Pest Control
Since termite queens can produce so many offspring, it is essential to eliminate her if you hope to solve your termite problems. Termite control is based around this need to not only kill the workers, but also get deep into the colony to kill the queen or queens. By understanding and exploiting the behavior of termites, pest control companies have been able to accomplish this. The worker termites are responsible for gathering the food for the colony and for feeding the queen. Slow-acting baits allow the termites to collect the bait and take it back to share with the entire colony. After the bait has been consumed, it will start to take affect and kill the termites. Hopefully, within just a few weeks, the queen and workers will be eliminated.
If you suspect you may have a termite infestation, it is crucial to get it under control quickly. Termites can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to your home, so it is wise to hire a trained professional to inspect your home, provide treatments, and help you prevent future termites. The experts at Midwest Pest Control are here to help! With offices in Tulsa, Oklahoma, Springfield, Missouri, and Little Rock and Northwest Arkansas, we have the staff and technicians to meet your needs. Our 100% satisfaction guarantee means that you can feel confident in our services. For termite control in Tulsa and surrounding areas, contact Midwest Pest Control today.