5 Termite Queen Facts You Need to Know

5 Termite Queen Facts You Need to Know

What are the termite queen facts you need to know?

  1. The appearance of the queen is distinct
  2. The queen is tasked with reproduction
  3. The queen emits a special pheromone
  4. The other termites work for the queen
  5. The lifespan of the queen can span decades

 

Just like how ant colonies have a queen, the termite queen leads the wood munching pests in a caste system. As the most important component of the colony, all the other termites assist her. She hides deep into the nest, so you need to contact pest control services to locate her if you have a termite infestation. If you’re interested in more termite queen facts, keep on reading!

 

The Appearance of the Queen Is Distinct

One of the things that separate the termite queen from the rest of the colony is her appearance. As the largest member, she looks more like a worm or caterpillar than a termite. A termite queen can grow up to 6 inches when carrying a high number of eggs, so it’s easy to differentiate her from the workers.

Before a termite becomes a queen, she will look like any of the termites in the caste. But as she fulfills her role as the founder and main reproducer of the colony, her appearance will start to change. When this happens, the abdomen part of the termite queen’s body will stretch out and elongate. This makes it hard for her to move around freely.

 

The Queen Is Tasked with Reproduction

The Queen Is Tasked with Reproduction

To understand more about the role of the queen in the colony, it is important to know more about how an ordinary termite turns into one. First, winged male and female termites, which are also known as alates, leave the main colony to mate and find a new nest. Once they find shelter, the female termite lays the eggs from which a new colony will emerge. She is the “founder” but also the main reproducer.

What makes a termite infestation problematic is the fact that termite queens can lay eggs every day. This will gradually increase every year so more termite workers and soldiers are produced. A small colony can turn into a huge problem in months.

 

The Queen Emits a Special Pheromone

Speaking of termite reproduction, aside from the termite queen, secondary queens can also produce eggs away from the main nest—which makes an infestation more problematic. These termites are typically located in satellite nests.

But before this happens, the main queen must permit them to reproduce first. This is done through a special pheromone she releases from her body. With these chemicals, she can block the reproductive development of the other members. Through this, the queen can control the size of the colony.

 

The Other Termites Work for The Queen

The Other Termites Work for The Queen

Apart from the termite queen and king who are tasked with reproduction, the other members also have a distinct role. Because the queen is too big to move freely, the worker termites fetch the food, build the nest, and tend to her needs. The soldiers are the ones who defend the colony from intruders.

These roles are not fixed, because the termites can adapt to fill in the current need. For example, a soldier can take on the role of the worker or become reproductive.

 

The Lifespan of the Queen Can Span Decades

In addition to the high capacity of the termite queen to lay eggs, she can also live for decades. Without disturbance from external forces such as a pest control team, her lifespan will last between 25 to 50 years. What this means is that she can produce a countless amount of termites in her lifetime. The peak egg production can last as long as 10 years.

When the termite queen dies naturally, the chemicals she releases will also disappear. A new queen will replace her and the colony will continue to live. This means that other methods are needed to completely get rid of a termite infestation.

 

Key Takeaway

A termite queen is the founder, main reproducer, and the cause of a growing termite colony. She’s responsible for how big the nest will reach, so it’s vital to stop her before the problem worsens.

Now that you know these termite queen facts, you can understand how dangerous and problematic an infestation can be. A pest control team like Topbest can provide effective methods to get rid of this problem, so you can live pest-free. If you’re interested in a free consultation, just send a message on this page today!

The Biggest Termite Queen

The Biggest Termite Queen

What do you need to know about the biggest termite queen?

  1. Macrotermes Bellicosus
  2. Size
  3. Lifespan
  4. Interesting Facts

 

Termite control aims to get rid of termites of all sizes; queens and drones alike. But did you know that the claim of the biggest termite queen belongs with the Macrotermes Bellicosus? This termite queen is probably the most colossal in terms of sheer size. No other termite species comes close to the size of this queen. There are various reasons why this queen requires such gargantuan anatomy. Today we’ll be exploring the grandeur of this queen’s robust body and its uniqueness from other termite species.

 

Macrotermes Bellicosus

Macrotermes Bellicosus

Out of the 2000 species of termites across the planet, the Macrotermes Bellicosus is widely found all over Africa and South East Asia. It’s is known as the termite species with the largest, most complex, and most advanced colony. The size of one colony can reach up to a hundred thousand termites over time. Fun fact: the Macrotermes Bellicosus is also sometimes referred to as “white ants,” but they’re not related to ants at all.

This species of termite builds their nests below ground under many layers of rich soil, forming a unique tower to house the entire colony. The nest is constructed using a mixture of their saliva and clay. Worker termites first burrow themselves under the subsoil in order to deliver sand grains and clay that is moistened with saliva. Workers thrive during the wet season as it’s much easier to build the nest when it’s raining.

The hive of the colony is usually located just above ground level. The mound includes various passages which lead to other parts of the nest. Using this complex series of passages within the hive, the Macrotermes Bellicosus termites can reach their food storage even up to 100 meters away. The temperature of the colony remains at 30 degrees Celsius with a steady humidity of 90 percent. The high humidity helps keep the nest intact. This allows the termites to survive within the independent internal temperature of the nest.

 

Size

Size

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The average Macrotermes Bellicosus queen can grow up to 6 inches in total. Some speculate that their enormous size may be a contributor to her unprecedented fertility. The queen can lay about 20,000 eggs and can have an impressive lifespan of 20 years. Even if the workers have a similar genome as the queen, worker termites can only live for a few months.

 

Lifespan

Lifespan

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The lifespan of most termites is usually short. The assumption is that if the termite queen is fertile, they don’t tend to live long. However, the opposite is true for the fertile Macrotermes Bellicosus queen. She can live up to 20 years and produce eggs during that time, defying the pattern of typical termites.

 

Interesting Facts

Interesting Facts

Genome

Macrotermes Bellicosus termites are clearly visible to the human eye. There is a distinct, slightly audible crunching sound once you step on the termite. The worker termites of this species are ⅛ – ¼ inches long on average. Even if they are large, this doesn’t mean they have a long lifespan. This is due to the jumping gene that can turn off specific genes such as the long lifespan. This is a mutation in the termite body. Regardless of the replication of the genome, it establishes itself in a different place, thus causing defects and deactivating certain genes.

 

Food

Because termites are known to eat dead vegetation, their tunnels can potentially weaken plant stems. This can collapse old trees or even the structure of your home.

In order to get the proper diet, termites need the cellulose of the wood. Many workers tend to burrow themselves within dead wood. The problem with the termite body is that they have no digestive enzymes present that can break down the cellulose provided by wood.

Macrotermes Bellicosus requires indirect methods of digesting their food. They would need the power of the single-celled protozoa to digest the cellulose. While the cellulose is being digested by the protozoa, the termites then use this opportunity to turn the single cell organism into a viable food source.

The Macrotermes Bellicosus has no present intestinal protozoa so they must construct fungus combs in the nest to properly digest the cellulose. These fungus combs are covered in sponge-like masses of wood pulp derived from feces that are covered with mycelium of fungal hyphae and sporangia. The fungus then digests the wood, but just enough so that the termites can enjoy their nutrition.

 

Metamorphosis

Did you know that termites go through incomplete metamorphosis? Most termites in the colony either stay as nymphs, workers, or soldiers. However, just because of the rainy season, nymphs undergo their metamorphosis. Here, they finally develop reproductive organs and wings. Once they mature, they emerge during the night and fly off to the surrounding areas. Males and females also start to mate to create a new colony. During these activities, the queen once again lays thousands of new eggs.

 

Key Takeaway

Termite control is amazing. Many of us should be glad that the population of these giant termites can be regulated. But it’s always a good thing to learn more about the insects one might encounter in the Philippines. The biggest termite queen is an interesting sight to behold.