Termites can range in size wildly, with several factors coming into play including the termite’s age, caste and species. Every termite starts out in life as a tiny egg, which can be seen with a magnifying glass. This egg then hatches into a still tiny larva. A few weeks after that, the larva grows into a small worker with six legs that is still hard to detect with the naked eye.
The largest termites in a colony
Different castes will have different sizes, but the largest termites in any colony are the king and the queen, which can reach over one inch in length. These two are part of the reproductive caste, which is usually filled with winged termites known as swarmers. Swarmers will go out during the spring and build new colonies. Once they have established a new nest, the king and the queen will lose their wings and reproduce for the rest of their life.
The size of various species
Subterranean termites are the most widespread species throughout the US and they are also responsible for most of the damage. In terms of size, a subterranean termite worker is as short as ⅛” but it can grow to be ¼” with age. Soldiers will be slightly longer than the workers, and the reproductives will usually be over ¾” without including the wings. However, when a queen starts to produce eggs for the colony, its abdomen will extend by as many as two inches and grow by ½” in width. The queen will have its own compartment in the colony, and the only way you can see it is if you take the colony apart.
You also have formosan subterranean termites, which are an invasive species, and they are also sometimes referred to as super termites. These will be 10% to 20% larger than the native species of subterranean termites.
Drywood termites are also larger than subterranean termites, starting at ¾” and growing over time. However, their reproductives, especially the queen, will be smaller than those of subterranean termites.
For the most part however, you will not really see a termite outside of a colony. This is because they will die out from dehydration when they come into contact with air. The only way to tell if you have an infestation is to either keep an eye out for signs, or to have a termite inspection performed by a pro. Contact us today if you would like to find out more.