Termite Reproduction (Both Sexual and Asexual)

Scientists have been studying termites for many years. Aside from the fact that these are very interesting insects, scientists hope to understand termites in order to help protect homes from termite damage.

Scientists recently discovered that termite queens could produce new queens without mating with the king. The queens still produce workers and soldiers the traditional way.

These new discoveries seem to indicate that the queen is able to control the genetic makeup of the colony. By producing new queens without mating, the queen reduces the chance of inbreeding.

If the original queen dies or becomes disabled, the new queens could mate with the king and keep the colony going. These new queens would not be related to the king, so there would not be an adverse effect on the colony.

Scientists also recently learned that the queen could regulate the development of castes in the colony. The queen does this with pheromones that she produces. As long as the queen is healthy, her pheromones are present in the colony. This seems to prevent new queens from developing.

If new queens were to develop, they could produce too many eggs. The workers would be unable to care for all of the immature termites, so some of them would perish.

By producing the pheromones, the queen is able to balance the termite population in the colony. The queen can also regulate the genetic makeup by producing new queens asexually.

Scientists hope to learn how the castes develop. If they understand how termites develop into workers or soldiers, scientists think it will be possible to control termites more effectively. This will help prevent termite damage to homes in the future.