What is the difference between White Ants & Termites?

There’s no question that termite infestations are a significant problem in Australia. In fact, termites infest approximately one in five Australian homes and cause $100 million worth of damage every year.

Whilst you might believe you have a termite infestation, you could actually be dealing with white ants.

Both species are highly destructive, and whilst a termite is closer to a cockroach than to an ant, the two insects look very similar. To help you understand what kind of infestation you’re dealing with, we’ve put together this guide to the differences between white ants and termites.


One thing termites and white ants have in common is that both creatures divide themselves into classes that have specific responsibilities within the colony.

However, termites and white ants have different characteristics in other ways, and these can be a useful way to tell them apart.

An area in which the two creatures differ is dietary habits. Termites survive on a diet of cellulose, a compound that is commonly found in wood, paper, and plants. Some termite species also use cellulose to build their nests.

White ants, however, are often attracted to sweet food sources such as sugar, honey, or fruit.

White ants will happily travel long distances to find food, and some types of ant lay down scents that will draw other ants to the food source. Unlike ants, termites construct tunnels to help them locate food.

If you can see small mud tunnels in your home, this is a good indication that termites are your problem.


White ants and termites look alike, and this is often why it’s so easy to get confused between the two; they are of a very similar shape and size. However, there are a few noticeable differences that will help you determine what sort of pest you’re faced with.

You can frequently tell them apart by looking at the antennae – termites have straight antennae, whereas all ant species have elbowed antennae with an angle in them.

There are also differences in body shape. Whilst white ants have a thin waist where the two parts of their body meet, this isn’t the case with termites. White ants also have eyes that can be seen on the side of their heads, unlike termites.

Effective pest control

When you can identify whether you’re infested with termites or white ants, working with your local pest control expert to put an appropriate solution in place is much more straightforward.

If you’re concerned about an infestation then make sure you seek help promptly. If you have a pest control problem in the Sunshine Coast, get in touch with Suncoast Termite & Pest. We’re leading experts in pest control on the Sunshine Coast, with a wealth of experience in efficiently and successfully eliminating infestations.

Our team are all fully qualified and licensed, and we tackle infestations in both domestic and commercial settings. We’re here to help tackle infestations of any scale, providing fast-working and long-lasting solutions.