White Ants and Termites: What’s the Difference?

Termite Inspection Perth

Almost every Australian is familiar with the little creatures that chew through wood and cause expensive damage to homes. Depending on your upbringing you might have called the little terrors Termites, or had the White Ant woes, but here’s something you might not know: they’re the same thing. Yes, termite and white ant are two different names for the same pest!

So, where does the confusion come from? Put simply, termites (or “white ants”, or “those little buggers that chewed through the neighbour’s deck”) look very similar to ants however are generally white in colour. There are some key differences though which will help to distinguish a dangerous termite invasion from ants, which are annoying but nowhere near as destructive. Because termite treatment is different from ant pest control in Perth, it’s important to know what you are facing. 

It may be worh booking a termite inspection in Perth with The Pest Guys. 

Are termites a type of ant?
Although termites and ants have some common relatives they are not closely linked. In fact, termites have more DNA in common with cockroaches than ants. However, they do look very similar and when masses are swarming around your home it can be challenging to spot the subtle differences. Here’s what to look for:
Waist size
Ants have a much skinnier waist, and their bodies are in three clear sections. Termites are broader throughout with no distinguishable waist.

• Antenna shape
Ants have ‘elbowed antennae’; that means their antennae are longer and have a clear bend in the middle. Termites’ antenna are straight, short, and beaded.

• Wing size
Both insects have two pairs of wings. However, both sets of wings on termites are the same size, whereas ants have longer front wings compared to their hind wings.

Where does the name come from?
Termites and ants look similar, except termites are often lighter in colour at different stages of their life. Winged black termites called “alates” are the ones you are most likely to see. These look confusingly like winged ants until you get a close look.

Worker termites and soldier termites are usually white or very pale brown in colour, although when they eat dark wood they take on a darker brown shade from the cellulose in their food. In Australia, most termites stay white, hence why they are dubbed “white ants”.

Termite Treatment in Perth
Getting rid of termites or protecting against attack, requires first identifying the species, and if possible where their colony is hiding. The Pest Guys recommended treatment involves a five-step process:

1. Thorough home inspection

2. Assessing the structure and selection of Termite Management System

3. Where Active termites are present in the home colony eradication treatment is recommended, using Exterra’s Requiem termite bait.

4. Protection of the property by either Exterra termite baiting / monitoring stations placed around the home, or a chemical barrier treatment is applied to the property to provide future protection.

5. Follow up inspections on either a 3, 6, or 12 monthly basis to ensure ongoing protection.

Annual termite inspections are an important first defence in white ant treatments. Colonies can spring up quickly in Perth and it’s not always easy to identify termite trouble. Contact The Pest Guys, who are experts in our field and will keep your home termite free, saving you buckets of money in the long run by avoiding a nasty white ant problem.