Reproduction and Life Cycles

    Reproduction begins with a swarming, which is when all the alates (winged, reproductively capable individuals) leave the nest and begin to fly around.  Eventually the individuals wings fall off and they are able to find a mate.  The male and female walk together until they find a favorable spot to create their own nest.  They then proceed to make their own colony and the whole process starts over with the next generation.

One common misconception people have is that reproduction takes place during the swarming, but this is not true.  It takes place inside the new nest after it has been built. (YeYe 2009)

Not all termites are capable of reproduction.  Reticulitermes  flavipes follows a complex social system of which there are three forms or castes: worker, soldier, or reproducers.  The workers make up the majority of the colony, are sterile and are responsible for building the tunnels throughout the nest, for caring for young and for finding food and water for the rest of the colony.  The soldiers are also sterile and their main responsibility is to protect the colony.  The reproducers includes kings, queens and alates.  Their main responsibility is to keep the colony supplied with more individuals.

Life Cycles:
    Each caste has its own stages of development:

Workers: Have two developmental stages: Nymphs and adults.  They have salivary glands to aid in ingestion and digestion and they are also blind.  Also, are incapable of reproduction.

Soldiers: Also have two developmental stages.  They are wingless and have very large mandibles, with yellowish colored heads and are also incapable of reproduction.

Reproducers: Have three well defined stages of development.  1.) a nymph or immature form which has wing pads, a white creamy colored body and oval shaped, light brown eyes 2.) the winged adult form which has long wings, a dark brown body and oval shaped black eyes 3.) the older adult form which has an enlarged abdomen and scales from their shed wings.