Termite Larvae: Identification and Treatment

Much like all problematic pests, termites look very different as the insects go through their various life stages. On the way to becoming adult termites, termites go through the stages of eggs, larvae, and nymph stages before the final molting process to become a worker, soldier, king, or even queen.

Throughout all termite colonies, all of the different varieties are actively going through several molting procedures to replenish and replace aging termites, specifically worker termites. Since the process of identification can be quite confusing, this guide will seek to explain these life stages and help to identify termite larvae apart from other termites in a colony.

termite larvae picture

What Are Termite Larvae?

Termite larvae are the stage within termite growth that immediately succeeds in the hatching of termite eggs. Termite larvae are typically white and may even resemble white ants when observed from afar.

For terms of proper identification, relying on color alone will likely not be very effective in identifying termite larvae. Worker termites, soldiers, and even most mature nymphs can all share the same color scheme.

The larvae will usually grow to roughly 2-3 mm in length, which is a much more accurate way of identifying nymphs in a termite colony. Larvae shape is another variable that can be assessed to accurately identify termite larvae from nymphs.

Swarm of the eastern-subterranean termite larvae

Larvae will typically look like smaller versions of more mature workers, however, there will be anatomical differences between the two stages. Termite larvae will have a much smaller head and thorax in comparison to a nymph, in addition to straightened antennae, as opposed to curved.

Furthermore, termite larvae, nymphs, and workers are all soft-bodied and lack a more robust and hard exterior shell. There are biological mechanisms at work to determine what ultimate stage larvae will eventually molt into, yet it can be confusing to distinguish between larvae, nymphs, and adult workers.

If you discover termites that are small in length, white, and soft-bodied, this is likely a sign that what you are seeing is larvae. Observing this stage is difficult since the newly hatched larvae, along with nymphs, will usually be in close proximity to the hidden queen.

termite larvae vs maggots

Do Termite Larvae Resemble Maggots?

From a faraway distance, termite larvae may resemble maggots in both color and movement. A closer examination will reveal that there are quite a few anatomical differences between the two.

Maggots resemble small worms with no legs or other prominent features. Whereas, termite larvae look more mature with a head, legs and rapidly developing anatomy.

Additionally, maggots will be much more visible in this stage as opposed to termite larvae. Maggots will generally be deposited out in the open to feast on decaying matter before molting into a fly.

You could also be observing a worker termite or even a nymph termite. A worker termite can easily resemble larvae.

How Do You Get Rid of Termite Larvae?

This question is part of a wider pest control treatment plan since the entire colony will need to be eradicated as opposed to singling out one life stage. A colony may contain many different life stages all inside of one structure, therefore, you will also have to address destroying all worker termites, soldiers, nymph stages and all the way to the queen.

Each termite will frequently molt and grow into larger termites. The circumstances of targeting the second life stage will not address the problem of an entire colony. Worker termites keep the colony functioning and are also responsible for feed all nymph stages and the queen.

Larvae cannot grow without the support of workers providing wood cellulose to both the larvae and the rest of the colony. Termites maintain a symbiotic ecosystem built on mutual support, therefore, targeting the entire colony via pest control is the best option.

Killing all the eggs, nymphs, workers, and the queen will stun a colony into chaos and this may lead to the prevention of any termites being able to grow into their respective roles.

Measures should be taken to remove an entire nest since this particular type of pest will not simply go away on its own. If you do properly identify larvae, consider having an exterminator come to your home to verify if you are undergoing an active infestation of termites.

How Do I Know if I Have Termite Larvae?

Each termite colony needs the worker caste more than any other selection. These are the termite varieties that you will likely see more than any of the others.

After a queen lays her eggs, the eggs will hatch into larvae, which will then molt into a variety of certain castes based upon need within the colony. You may see more worker termites and this may cause confusion in trying to figure out what stage you are looking at.

Soldiers and alates are rarely seen, and a nymph termite can simply be any of the certain castes that haven't matured yet. There is also confusion in determining exactly what termites look like due to the species rarely venturing out of the colony.

Since so many variations may occur, any visible sight of termite activity needs to be immediately addressed. You may think you are viewing larvae, yet you could just as easily be looking at an adult worker termite.

Termites are always a packaged deal due to the fact that the entire colony sticks together at all times, minus alates. Getting rid of termites all at once is always the best strategy as opposed to targeting just one type of caste.

For all intents and purposes, the only real way to know if you have termite larvae is to deconstruct and infested structure and root through the entire nest to find one particular type of caste.

What Do Termite Eggs Look Like?

Termites have very peculiar looking eggs. Eggs are almost always white in color and typically grouped together like fish eggs.

You will typically see worker termites and nymphs surrounding eggs, and the queen is not too far from her future offspring either.

In Summary

You will usually never have to concern yourself with distinguishing between the different life stages of termites. These insects prefer to stay hidden from view and live inside of the structures they have infested.

There could possibly be instances where you could very well see termite larvae, therefore, there are some important characteristics to look for to determine if this is the life stage in question.

Larvae are small in length and typically white in color. At this life stage, these kinds of termites will usually be not too far from the queen's chamber.

If you are experiencing an infestation of termites or, if you suspect you have identified termite larvae, there are multiple strategies you can undertake to eradicate the problem.

Additionally, a pest control professional will always provide consultation to diagnose the problem and recommend an effective treatment strategy. There are simply too many variables to diagnose one life stage alone.


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