Difference between Termites and White Ants
difference between termites and ants

Written by Peter Muller

Termites and White Ants – any difference?

Basically, white ants is a name given to termites due to the physical characteristics of the termite. In fact, white ant is simply a generic term due to a lack of understanding by the general public.

In any event, white ants, termites or whatever you choose to call them are a destructive threat to your home and it’s a worth knowing the various differences between termites and ants to help prevent damage to your biggest investment.

Physical Characteristics of Termites

  • Termites are an invasive pest.
  • They are a light, translucent cream to white colour, hence the name white ant.
  • Their waits are quite bulbous, thick in appearance.
  • Termite antennae are straight with no elbows.
Termite pest

Physical Characteristics of Ants

Compared to termites, ants come in various sizes and colours. Green ants, for example, are green. Red, black, yellow, the colours vary, as do their bites.

However, from a physiological perspective, ants look very similar.

  • Ants antennae have elbows.
  • They have thinner waists than termites.
  • Ants have very obvious eyes on the sides of their heads.
invasive ant treatment

Behavioural Characteristics of Termites

  • Termites eat cellulose found in wood, however they will also devour cardboard, paper and plants.
  • They generally burrow their way through your wooden structures as they literally eat your home.
  • Termites can make tunnels up and over obstacles if needed to protect themselves and their colony from the elements.
  • You’ll also find them around moisture sources, they’ll absolutely love dining on your bathroom internal walls if you give them the chance.

Behavioural Characteristics of Ants

  • Although you may find ants in and around timber, they’re not there to devour it. It’s likely they are using wood as a transport network.
  • Ever seen ants in proximity to small piles of debris near door frames and showers? They’re just burrowing, moving things around to enable easier movement. They are not demolishing your home like termites do.
  • Ants eat household scraps, crumbs and any food without a lid on it. Have you noticed how much ants love sugar?


An important factor about termites and ants is knowing how to treat them. With ants, you can remove them simply by removing the food source or with some surface spray around their ingress areas.

Termites, on the other hand, require a more professional approach. I always recommend contacting your local Cairns building and pest control specialist for treating an invasive termite infestation.

Let’s face it, your home is most likely your most important investment. Don’t risk your investment by letting termites destroy your home.

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