What is the nuptial flight of termites?
The nuptial flight of termites is when they mate to produce babies.
Alates are winged termites and their job is to reproduce. There are male and female alates.
Ants and other insects may also have a nuptial flight, generally at night. The nuptial flight of termite alates is a bit different. Termites are weak fliers so they wait until perfect weather conditions before they swarm to establish a new colony.
Termites take their nuptial flight (they swarm) in the middle of the day, when it is sunny, there is no wind, and after it has rained.
Male and female termite alates shed their wings after they swarm, soon after they land. Their wings are discarded (dropped off) after flying. This is called deciduous. Trees that drop their leaves are also called deciduous. The attachment where the wing joins the body is called a suture and it de-alates (breaks off), leaving a small permanent scale.
The males look for a suitable partner. When the pair has mated, they will search for a damp piece of wood where they will start their colony together.
Female alates are oviparous and lay eggs, usually 1,000 eggs a day. The eggs take 2-4 weeks to hatch into baby termites, called nymphs. Nymphs do not have a pupae stage, like many other insects (such as butterflies), but continue an incomplete metamorphosis to gradually become adults. They might molt (shed their cuticle) several times before becoming adults.
Photographer: Martina Nicolls
Martina Nicolls: SIMILAR BUT DIFFERENT IN THE ANIMAL KINGDOM