What Do Baby Termites Look Like?

They may not be much to look at, but these small insects can cause big problems for homeowners and if you have found what you believe to be baby termites in your home, it is important to determine whether or not they are in fact baby termites.

close up of nymphs

Baby termites do not look very different from fully developed and mature termites. Nymphs, as we may also call them, have smaller and softer bodies compared to adult termites.

They have a pale white or translucent appearance and as they mature, they gradually develop the characteristic brown coloration of adults. They are very small in size, measuring to only about 1/8 of an inch long.

How Can You Identify Baby Termites?

Baby termites are born from eggs that are laid by the queen termite. Once they hatch, they go through several molts before becoming adults. During this time, they shed their skin and grow new wings.

These baby termites are known as nymphs or immature termites and unlike other social insects, they resemble their adult counterparts. The only difference is that the baby termites are smaller and paler in color than the adults.

Body

They have soft bodies that have straight antennae and short legs with blunt ends. Additionally, their bodies are long and slender, almost tube-like in shape.

Their head is small and round, with large mandibles (jaws) used for chewing. They have a distinctly segmented body.

Size

These babies are very tiny and their bodies are just approximately 1/8 of an inch long. Because they are so tiny, it’s difficult to spot a single baby termite with the naked eye. They appear to be white grains of rice when together. They’re generally white and elongated in form, resembling tubes.

Color 

Baby termites are generally white or cream in color just like their adult counterparts. However, their bodies may darken as they mature. This helps them blend in with their surroundings and makes it difficult for predators to spot them.

Baby Termites vs Baby Ants

Baby termites are often mistaken for ants. However, there are several key differences between these two types of insects. For example, baby termites have straight antennae, while ant antennae are elbowed.

Additionally, ants have narrow waists while termites do not. Termites have short legs with blunt ends while ants have longer legs with pointed ends.

Termites do not alter their form as they grow, unlike ants. When an ant grows, it takes on a different appearance than a termite.

Do Baby Termites Fly?

While baby termites eventually grow wings, they do not fly immediately after molting. It typically takes several weeks or even months for their wings to fully develop and enable flight. During this time, they remain hidden in their nests where they feed on wood and cellulose materials.

winged termites crawling around rough soil

They have wings that are longer than their bodies and when they fly, their wings beat in a synchronized fashion. When they are at rest, their wings fold over their backs and cross at the base.

Where Can I See Them?

For most people, baby termites are a mystery. After all, these insects are rarely seen out in the open.

These babies are not commonly seen because they stay hidden in the underground tunnels that the adult termites built. If you do see them, it is likely because they have become lost or separated from their colony.

Baby termites are born blind and helpless and must be cared for by the adult termites until they mature into adults as well. While most of them will eventually become members of the workforce, some lucky few will develop into alates or reproductive adults.

Alates have wings and are responsible for creating new colonies. Given their importance to the survival of the species, it is not surprising that these baby insects receive the highest level of care from their colony. 

You may be able to find them near structural damage caused by termites as they are attracted to light. However, if you think you have found baby termites, it is best to contact a professional for confirmation as other insects may be mistaken for termites.

When Do They Become Adults?

Surprisingly, the termite lifecycle is distinctive and unique, as it differs from that of other insects.

Most insects’ lifecycle would be considered a complete metamorphosis. This means that they have four stages in their lives: egg, larva, pupa, and adult.

Termites only have three stages: eggs, nymphs, and adults. Nymphs are similar to larvae in that they are immature insects that must undergo a series of molts before becoming adults. However, there are some key differences between the two.

For example, nymphs already have working mandibles while larvae do not. Additionally, nymphs go through gradual changes as they mature while larvae experience a more dramatic transformation during pupation.

Generally speaking, it takes anywhere from six to 12 months for a baby termite to become an adult depending on the species. However, this process can take longer if the colony is experiencing food shortages or other stressors.

Once they become adults, termites will mate and the cycle starts all over again. 

How Many Times Do Baby Termites Molt?

Baby termites go through several molts before becoming adults. The time it takes for them to reach adulthood varies depending on the species of termite, but it generally takes anywhere from several months to a year.

close up of small termite

During each molt, they shed their skin and grow new wings until they eventually become fully grown adults. Once they reach adulthood, they leave the nest in search of food and mate with other adult termites.

What Do Baby Termites Eat?

As mentioned previously, baby termites are born blind and helpless. They rely on the adults in their colony to care for them until they are old enough to fend for themselves.

During this time, they stay hidden away in the safety of the nest where they feed on wood and cellulose materials.

While most baby insects would eat solid food, baby termites actually consume a liquid diet. The adults in the colony regurgitate partially digested wood that the babies then absorb through their gut walls. This provides them with the nutrients they need to grow and develop into adults.

Once they are old enough to venture out on their own, they will begin to feed on wood and other cellulose materials just like the rest of the colony.

Read More: What Do Termites Look Like in Ohio?

Final Thoughts

Given their small size and similarities to other insects, baby termites can be difficult to identify but compared with adult termites, there are not many differences.

Baby termites are typically white or cream-colored, with soft and delicate bodies. Their heads are rectangular in shape and their eyes are located on the sides of their head.

They have two straight antennae and four short legs with blunt ends. They’re usually about the size of a grain of rice or approximately 1/8 of an inch long, making them very difficult to see.

It is important to be able to distinguish them from other pests since they can quickly mature into destructive swarmers.

Once you see sightings of these baby pests and other signs of infestation, it’s important to contact a pest control professional right away.