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The Mature Colony

Deep within the nest, protected by soldiers and cared for by workers, the queen begins to grow. While her head and thorax do not change, her abdomen increases in size as her ovaries enlarge and her egg-laying capacity increases. In some highly evolved species with extraordinarily large colonies, the queen can swell to more than 5.5 in (77 cm) in length and 1.5 inches (3.81 cm) in diameter; thus, her abdomen swells to about 200 to 300 times it original size. In such a state, the queen is incapacitated and cannot feed herself.

By her third year, the queen reaches the peak of her egg production, when she typically lays over 30,000 eggs per day. The most fertile queens belong to the species Odontotermes obesus, which can lay about one egg per second or about 86,400 eggs each day. In all species, the king, her constant companion, changes very little throughout his life.



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Harris, W. Victor. Termites: Their Recognition and Control. London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1964.

Lee, K.E., and T.G. Wood. Termites and Soils. New York: Academic Press, 1971.

The New Larousse Encyclopedia of Animal Life. New York: Bonanza Books, 1987.

Pearl, Mary Corliss, Ph.D. Consultant. The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Wildlife. London: Grey Castle Press, 1991.

Kathryn Snavely

Additional topics

Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Swim bladder (air bladder) to ThalliumTermites - Caste System, Reproductives, Workers, Soldiers, The Mature Colony