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Why Are Termite Queens So Big?

If you have ever seen a termite nest, you may notice the large size of the queen.

She stands out as much bigger than the worker termites, and for a good reason. 

Termite queens are larger than workers because they have to carry and lay eggs. The queen is always laying eggs, which hatch and become worker termites. The more giant the queen, the more eggs she can produce.

What Makes Termite Queens so Big?

Photo of termites and the queen termite.

In contrast to other colony members, the queen is much larger than the other females. This is because the large size of the queen’s abdomen allows her to hold and lay a lot of eggs. 

She measures about 10 cm in length with a large white abdomen. However, the rest of their body, like their heads and legs, are similar in size to a worker termite. 

In the colony, a queen plays the most critical role. She makes many sacrifices to ensure the colony’s other members are taken care of. For example, in termite colonies, the queen decides how many colony members there will be, how the colony will be divided, and how much food the colony will produce.  

She is expected to live for a period of 20 to 50 years. One unique characteristic of queen termites is that their abdomens extend to extreme lengths. 

A combination of fat deposits in her abdomen and enlarged ovaries explains this growth. However, the type of termite will determine how large the stomach is.

Drywood termite queens, for example, only enlarge their abdomen to a minimal extent. In general, the abdomen measures about 10cm in diameter. 

The abdomens of queen termites are typically much larger than the abdomens of regular termites.

The nest size can easily give you an idea of how big the queen termite is. Termites with large nests indicate that the queens are very large as well.

How Big Are Queen Termites?

Different species of termites have queens that are of different sizes. However, In all colonies, the queen is the giant termite.

Subterranean Termite Size

Subterranean worker termites are found in 48 states in the USA (no termites are present in Alaska yet). 

They are as small as 1/8″ but can grow as large as 3/8″. The reproductive queens and kings found along with these subterranean termites will be over 3/4″ long, while soldiers will be a little shorter. 

When the queen becomes a full-scale egg factory, her abdomen becomes quite long, so these measurements do not include the queen’s wings. It is not uncommon for a stomach to measure more than 2 inches long by 1/2 inches wide. 

Formosan Subterranean Termite Size

While Formosan and domestic subterranean termites differ in size by 10% to 20%, they are generally considered to be similar species. 

It is common for Formosan termites to have a more extensive home range and a larger nest.

Drywood Termite Size

While drywood termites do not reach the height of dampwood or subterranean termites, they still grow large. 

Queen ants may reach 1/6 inches, and king ants may reach as long as 1/2 inches.

What Does a Queen Termite do?

Close-up photo of a queen termite.

Termite colonies have a queen whose role changes over time.

The job of “founder” begins after she pairs with a male. The female must decide on a nesting site and excavate it, as well as lay eggs that will hatch and mature into workers.

A small opening in the thick walls of the royal cell allows workers to groom and feed the queen and king. 

A queen lays eggs daily at the same rate, and workers will make incubation chambers for the eggs.  

During her peak egg production years, the queen produces an increasing number of eggs. Therefore, once secondary queens begin laying eggs within a colony, the colony’s number of workers increases rapidly.

In different species and ages, the queen produces different numbers of eggs. The amount of egg production changes during the year, especially in tropical regions. Cooler months are typically when termites suspend their egg production.

Workers feed and groom young immature workers after they hatch in nursery chambers. Once they complete their final molt, they will either be workers or soldiers and begin moving throughout the nest.

In five years from the time a colony begins, it could grow to a population of 300,000.

Some colonies are known as “satellite nests.” Satellite nests are usually occupied by secondary queens, increasing the size and population of colonies as they grow away from the central nest.

How do You Kill a Queen Termite?

Workers, soldiers, and reproductives are the three types of termites that make up a colony. In addition, Queen termites are female swarmers, while king termites are male swarmers. 

In terms of termite growth, the queen is responsible for egg production and growing termites. Therefore, any termination process must include killing the termite queen. 

You can distinguish between regular termites and swarmers by looking at the pictures of the queen termite. If you kill the queen, you could potentially destroy the colony. Here are some ways to do so.

Bait Stations

To eradicate termite kings and queens, a bait station can significantly help. For termite queens, bait stations use low poisoning termiticides, which are highly effective. 

The queen eats the poison she takes from bait stations while searching for food, ultimately dying.

Termiticide in Wood or Soil

Some termiticides work well in killing termite queens because they poison them slowly. So in terms of killing termite queens, slow poisons work well. 

Termite colonies under the ground are susceptible to this type of poison. Therefore, killing termite queens is most effective with termiticides that act as slow poisons. 

Call an Exterminator

After the termite control expert examines your property, he will be able to provide you with the best advice on how to eliminate the termite queen based on your needs. 

Sometimes you or an expert can treat termites without expensive treatments such as fumigation. Therefore, it is always a good idea to seek professional help who can examine the site and offer treatment options.


If you have a termite problem, it can help to find the queen. She will be the largest termite in the nest. Her size is due to her role as an egg layer in the colony. 

Killing the queen and any other reproductive termites in the colony could help weaken it and cause it to move elsewhere.