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Termite Reproductives

The reproductive caste is responsible for producing all the offspring in a termite

A termite queen, Reticulitermes sp. Photo by Drees.
Queen Termite

colony.  The primary reproductive caste members are commonly referred to as the King and Queen of the colony.

Additional members of the reproductive caste are winged reproductives often called swarmers or alate.  The reproductive caste has two pairs of long narrow wings of equal size, and is dark-colored.  The winged caste is also the only member of the colony with functional compound eyes.  Their striking differences make them easy to distinguish from other castes that are blind, whitish and soft-bodied.

Reproductives do not feed directly on wood and require nourishment from other colony members.

A winged reproductive termites, Reticulitermes sp. Photo by J. Hamer.
Winged Reproductive Termite

 

A termite Queen is often easily recognizable by it’s enlarged abdomen, which increases with each reproductive cycle. While much smaller than the Queen, the King is still easily recognizable as it is larger than the soldier and working cast members of the colony.

A termite colony is one of the most difficult insect infestations to contain as behind the primary reproductive royal couple the King and Queen, several other secondary reproductives lie in wait.  Once a colony King or Queen dies a secondary reproductive can step in immediately to fill the void left by the death of their respective colony mate.

At maturity, a primary queen has a great capacity to lay eggs.  In certain species of termites a mature queen can lay more than two thousand eggs a day.

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