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Are white ants different from termites?



There are over 3000 species of ant native to Australia.

Regular Australian ants are a nuisance but cause little damage and are quick and easy to exterminate.

White ants or termites as they are more commonly known are the number one threat to Australian home-owners. White ants infest up to 200,000 Australians homes a year causing an average of $7000 damage to each property.

Here is our guide to telling the difference between regular ants and termites.

Regular Ants

  • Regular ants look just like the ants you see drawn in cartoons. They have long, dark bodies with clear segments and long, thin antennae.
  • Regular ants can live anywhere with a food source. You can discourage regular ants by making sure there is no food left out or scraps or crumbs on the floor.
  • Regular ants are very easy to spot, in daylight you will see them inside and outside. They do not hide from humans or burrow into wood.
  • Regular ants do not eat wood. They do not munch on your fixtures and fittings.
  • Regular ants only build nests in pre existing spaces. Regular ants have no interest in eating into your home, they only want to find a space for a nest.
  • Regular ants are attracted to food or leftovers from the bin. Regular ants eat human food and rubbish.

White Ants (Termites)

  • White ants have shorter, fatter, amber or sandy coloured bodies with no clear segments. They have no eyes and large head segments with thick antennae they use to move around.
  • White ants live inside wood, it is unlikely you will actually see a white ant in daylight. Although you may hear them chewing!
  • White ants eat only wood. They are not attracted to the food you eat or the rubbish you make.
  • White ants cause a lot of visible damage to your home. A white ant infestation has lots of key signs, always be on the look out for these signs in your home.
  • White ants eat into wood and build their nests, it is rare to see a white ant nest in the open inside your home.
  • White ants are much harder to find. To establish whether your home has a white ant infestation you will need to look around for the key signs in your home and garden.


There are a lot of similarities between regular ants and white ants, it is easy to see how you can get confused. Key similarities are:

They both build nests

Always look out for nests in your garden and in your home. Regular ants build nests in in your garden or potted plants. White ants build their nest inside or around wood, normally in your home’s timber frame or your garden trees.

They both live in colonies

Regular ants live in one large colony that moves around your home depending on the season or the amount of food available. White ants spread colonies all over your home. They live in multiple nests and locations. If you see a white ant colony in your home, it will not be the only one.

All ants have ‘Swarmers’

White ant swarmers shedding wings ‘Swarmers’ are winged ants which leave the nest to establish new colonies. Regular ant swarmers, known as flying ants are easy to spot. White ant swarmers burrow into woodwork as soon as they

can and hide. All swarmers shed their wings, so keep an eye out for these discarded wings on your window sills or around your skirting boards.

All ants leave debris

Regular ants leave faeces and piles of sawdust as they do not eat the wood that they chew at. White ants leave faeces but no wood residue as they eat the wood. White ant faeces may be mistaken for sawdust as it looks similar, you probably won’t want to inspect this too closely though. The easy way to tell the difference is faeces will appear in several places, frequently.

If you have an ant infestation on your property it is always a good idea to call a trusted pest control team to assess the problem.

A regular ant infestation is annoying but a white ant infestation could cost you thousands. It is always best to check what type of ants you have in your home and to get professional advice on how to eradicate the ant problem.

If you are ever in doubt just call in a professional team on 9336 6944, we have years of training and experience will quickly put your mind at ease.