Termites undergo incomplete metamorphosis. This means that, unlike many insects such as flies, they do not go through the egg, larva, pupa, adult cycle. Termite eggs hatch into nymphs which undergo a series of moults until they become adults. The number of moults will vary by species and also according to the eventual role of the adult termite.
The length of the life cycle depends on the availability of food, temperature and, to a lesser extent, the needs of the colony. Pheromones from the queen (or less commonly, the king) control the development of the nymphs, determining whether they will be workers, soldiers, kings or queens.
Pheromones also dictate when winged termites or alates appear. The alates are fertile males and females that swarm from their nests to start new colonies.
When a colony is still new, the queen may only lay as few as 10 to 20 eggs a day. Within a year or two this may have increased to 1,000 eggs a day. Once the colony is fully established, a single queen might lay up to 40,000 eggs daily (5).