Comparing Ants & Termites


Are white ants and termites different?

The short answer is, no.

White ants is a common name used to describe termites because they look like white ants.  So if you hear people talking about white ants what they really mean is they have a termite problem.

Ants and termites are in fact entirely difference species, if you want to get technical Ants are from the Order Hymenoptera, Family Formicidae and Termites have a lot of different families but they are all from the Order Isoptera.

Compare Ants and Termites

There are some key features that will help you distinguish between them.
So if you are getting into the garden as spring approaches and you unearth what look like white ants you can use the table below to tell the difference.

Alternatively, if you are located in Melbourne you can pop some into a container and bring them into our office in Moorabbin.
We will then get a Pest Control Technician to identify them for you.

Call 9555 5922 and see if you are in the catchment area for our free on site assessment serviceant
Or hit us up on our Facebook Page with a picture and we’ll try to help.

Physical Differences between Ants and Termites



Antennae Elbowed. Simple string of bead-like segments.
Eyes Compound eyes present. No eyes.
Waist (called a pedicel, found between thorax and abdomen)


Present. Absent.


Pointed at end. : Blunt at end.

Source:  (Dr David Britton)

Difference between ants and termites

The life cycle of an ant and termite also differ.  Ants have what is called complete metamorphosis which means they move from egg, to larva, pupa and then adult.

Termites have an incomplete lifecycle and move just from egg, to nymph and adult, they skip the pupal stage.

Ants and termites are both scavengers of sorts.  Ants as we know will scavenge for a wide array of food sources depending on their species.  They may also live within damp and decaying timbers but unlike the termites, they won’t eat it.

Termites by contrast are plant tissue specialists.  They feed on wood and grass and as we know (and probably why you are on this site) they can cause extensive damage to buildings in Melbourne as well as trees because of their feeding and nesting.

However they both operate with distinctive caste systems including workers, soldiers and reproductives.

So if you are out and about in the garden in Melbourne this spring, keep an eye out for both ants and termites and see if you can spot the difference.

For more information, take a look at this website:

Image sources:

Termite, Creator: Andrew Howells © Australian Museum
Ant, Creator: Andrew Howells © Australian Museum

Leave a Reply

Call Now Button