What to Do if You Have Found Termite Larvae? Identification & Treatment

The queen lays eggs even after just laying an egg; she can lay about 1,000 eggs in a day, and she literally doesn’t sleep. Other types of termites are paramount to the success of the colony, so pheromones given off by the king and queen signal what is needed. The varieties of termites differ in several ways, most distinctly by visuals. 

There are different ways to handle a termite infestation, but your best option is always to call a professional to do a thorough pest removal job. In the meantime, you can choose through various chemical options to dismantle as much of the colony as you can kill.

What are termite larvae?

Termite larvae (also known as “nymph”) can become either a soldier termite, worker termite, queen/king termite, or secondary reproductive termite. A reproductive termite can even gain the ability to fly!

The termite larvae go through several molts, usually three, before finally growing into adult termites. This cycle adjusts according to the colony’s needs, based on several factors. During the molting phases, the termite larvae are referred to as being in their 1st, 2nd, or 3rd instar. (There can be many more than just three, this is just for example sake.)  

At these stages, the larvae can be mistaken for other insects, such as beetle larvae. This is because termite larvae most closely resemble their adult molt, minus the hard shell. However, most fly maggots and beetle larvae eventually molt into a completely different-looking animal.

Environmental reasons, social status, and pheromones (chemical signals) secreted by king and queen termites are the key factors that determine what type of termite larvae needs to grow into in order to meet the needs of the colony.

Identify termite larvae

  • Body: soft body, no hard outer shell at this stage. They are about 2.5mm long, and measuring them is the most accurate identification method.
  • Colors: white bodies that have a pale translucence to them
  • Diet: they feed off of the bits and pieces of other insects that the adult termites feed them

What does the termite queen do, and what does she look like?

The queen lays termite eggs, which become newly hatched termites, starting more termite colonies. The queen termite is the largest, so she’s actually pretty easy to spot amongst the horde of subterranean termite larvae and young termites.

Her abdomen is so large that she can hardly move; she must be groomed and fed by the worker termites.

She also lives the longest, at 25-50 years, while all other termites usually live between 1-2 years! The long lifespan of a queen adds to the pest control issues surrounding adult termites and termite larvae; you have to stop any infestation at the source, and the queen is definitely the source of the problem.

Termite Life Cycle – from egg to the other adult termites

The queen termites will lay eggs, and once the eggs hatch, the immature termites are often called baby termites, which must be fed constantly by mature termites. 

The main reason for a termite attack on a home is to provide food for their termite young; a termite larva will die if not fed and protected by an adult worker termite. The larvae molt as they age, growing through different stages depending on their position within the colony and at what end they will finish.

Reproductive termites

Only the reproductive termites, also known as alates, develop wings and gain the ability to fly. 

  • These pests fly off and meet in pairs to mate 
  • They shed their wings after mating and begin a new colony 
  • Some subterranean termites have secondary reproductive termites within the colony itself to supplement the growing need for workers and soldiers.

Worker termites

Worker termites are the most abundant of the clan, and they literally do all of the work. They feed the queen and termite larvae, build mud tunnels, and excavate wood. In short, they are the leading cause of destruction in your home. 

Worker termites are white to ivory in color, with straight antennae.

Soldier termites

A soldier termite looks a lot like a worker termite, except they have dark brown heads and large mandibles for protecting the colony.

King termites

King termites are easy to identify because of their dark colors; next to the queen, he is the most important member of the colony. His pheromones (along with the queens) are paramount to determining the colony’s needs.

Early signs of termite larvae, termite eggs, and a termite colony

Adult termite swarmers are indicative of kings and queens looking to start their new colonies (a.k.a. infestations); they are often seeking mates to breed and locations to land to create a new colony. 

Their size is the best way to identify termite larvae from other soldier termites, worker termites, or other insects entirely. This is a task best left to a pest control professional. Some other signs of a termite infestation include discarded wings around window sills. 

Not all termites eat wood or attack wooden structures the same way; their patterns can be dissimilar to other insects.

Signs of Dampwood termites

Signs of Dampwood termitesDampwood termites will do structural damage in the form of softwood damage. They need a moist environment to thrive. You’ll find these guys around the southeast and northwest of the US, and they will be thriving on a moist foundation. They are easy to spot because they don’t do anything with their dead, so you’ll find dead bodies of termites lying around the colony.

Check for soft spots in the wooden foundation and walls, as that will be the place to start reaching the problem’s source. 

Signs of Drywood termites

Drywood termites cause extensive damage as they chew the inner wood portion of beams and foundations. They will enter your home through cracks in the wood and any holes that may be present. Of the termites’ varieties in the US, these are one of the hardest to notice since they are relatively slow-growing, and they don’t get as large as some of their family members choose to do. You’ll mostly find them in the south and southwestern states, where the air is humid.

Just like their name implies, they don’t want their wood moist in any way, so these guys might be in your attic, not in your basement, which isn’t a spot you would typically think of when you think of a termite infestation. 

Signs of Subterranean termites

The subterranean species of termite is the most prevalent and widespread across the continental US, although mostly found in the southeast. This type of termite will feast on virtually any type of wood, building their mud tunnels up high above the ground, used by worker termites to scavenge for food and water.

You can tell you have a problem with this species when you see lots of the flying alates around and/or discarded wings around wooden structures such as your windowsills in particular. They will keep the main portion of their colony underground, but thousands of worker termites will remain busy 24/7 since termites don’t sleep.

How to get rid of termite larvae, worker termites, and the rest of them the easy and fast way (termite control and termite removal)

How to get rid of termite larvaeThe best way to kill termite larvae is to call a professional in pest control to kill termites, but if you must insist on taking action yourself, here are some safety measures you can take to do some pest control of your own:

  • A bug bomb design for termites is your best course of action; just be sure to read the label thoroughly, as you may need to vacate the area for some time.
  • One of the best ways to kill termites is boric acid, which most pest control professionals use. Some folks will line a barrier around the perimeter of their house and/or garden to prevent pests of many kinds.
  • There are also touches of powder you can use in and outside of your home that will both repel and kill termites.
  • Other chemical sprays, such as those to be sprayed outside of your home, are available over the counter (in most states) but are best used as protection against an infestation rather than the treatment of an infestation (this is not true of all products). It’s a liquid barrier you spray around the base and part of the walls of your home on the outside.
  • Above all, termite baits are the best-known proven method of destroying a termite colony and being a termite killer. You trap termite poison around the corners of your foundation and the perimeter. Termite workers will take the delayed-release poison back to the colony, infect other termites and baby termites, and destroy themselves from within, killing termites and preventing termite infestations.

Frequently asked questions

Do termite larvae look like maggots or ant larvae?

Pretty much, yes, they do look like maggots; they are often mistaken for other insects as well. Before the larvae molt, the larvaes’ soft bodies mimic small worms and maggots, squirming about the lair. However, ant larvae have far more distinctive abdomens and longer legs, so it’s easier to tell them apart. 

Where do you find termite larvae?

You have to dig deep into the entire colony to find the termite larvae surrounded by more and more worker termites. Some termites live in mound, others are subterranean termites, and some live right out of rotting wood.

What are other ways to tell you have a termite problem?

Small, round holes in wood indicate termite activity, and it’s best to call a pest control specialist to identify the reason behind the holes (if you cannot see a simple solution yourself).

Do termites come back after treatment?

Termite mounds and colonies can return after treatment, yes. Most pest control businesses have a warranty you might want to look into purchasing for peace of mind.

Do termites work throughout the night?

Actually, yes. In fact, termites don’t sleep; they are always eating, drinking, building, etc. So they are always on the move!


Termites look very different in their various growth stages and job descriptions. The queen is the largest of the group, and she must be either killed or removed from the colony to stop an infestation. Termite larvae are defenseless and require constant care and protection from the worker termites, the main cast of the colony. When in doubt on how to treat an infestation, call a professional!

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