Termites 101: The Termite Colony

Not all termites are created equal. Termites are social insects whose colonies are divided into castes. Each caste has specific duties that work together to ensure the colony survives and grows.


Workers – Workers make up the overwhelming majority of the colony. They are responsible for foraging for food to feed the rest of the colony, caring for the young and building mud tubes. Workers are the termites that cause damage to homes and other valuable properties made of wood. Mature termite colonies can contain multiple thousands to millions of workers!


Soldiers – Soldiers are the defenders of the colony. Their main job is to protect the colony from natural predators — such as ants and spiders. Soldiers have large, armored heads and powerful jaws meant for defense.


Reproductives – Reproductive pairs, also called alates or swarmers, are the ones with wings that you’d see during swarming season. Male and female swarmers leave their parent colonies (usually in the spring) in groups, with the goal of establishing new colonies.


The queen – The termite queen is the largest and most important colony member because she can lay eggs at a rate of up to one every second. That’s as many as a million eggs in her lifetime! She is large, up to 4 inches long, and can live for a decade or longer under ideal conditions. And unfortunately for homeowners, if the queen dies, there are supplemental reproductive who are ready to step up and keep the colony going – except when you are using the Sentricon® System.


To learn more about termites and signs of damage, visit the About Termites page.