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Difference between white ants and termites

To the untrained eye, both insects look alike. However, termites are actually more closely related to cockroaches than ants. Termites are often mistaken for white ants but differ greatly from ants in terms of their appearance, characteristics, and dietary requirements.

Termite Characteristics

Termites live on a strict diet of cellulose. Cellulose is an organic compound found in wood and plants. All species of termites live off cellulose, meaning that they not only consume wooden structures, but they can and will also feed on plants, cardboard, and paper!

What do termites look like?

Although very similar to ants in terms of shape and size, termites have some unique features which help identify them.

  • Termites are a light colour, usually a white/cream colour and can sometimes look quite translucent.
  • They have straight antennae compared to ants.
  • Termites have a thick waist.
  • Termite Castes

Ant Characteristics

Ants will often travel a great distance in the search for food. Some types of ant will lay down a scent which will attract other ants to a food source.

What do Ants look like?

An ants appearance differs from termites in a handful of different ways:

  • They are usually a dark colour depending on the species.
  • They have elbowed antennae.
  • Their eyes are evident on the side of the head.
  • They are made up of 3 sections – Head, Thorax and Gaster.
  • Compared to termites, ants have a thin waist where the thorax meets the gaster.

Spotting the Signs

Knowing the difference between an ant and a termite is extremely important with termite season poking its head around the corner.

Being able to identify the differences between termite damage and an ant infestation can help streamline the approach to managing a potential pest infestation for both you and your pest controller, helping to save you both time and money.

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Termite Species

Learn more about the common termite species found in South Australia.