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What’s the difference between white ants and termites?

Termites are often referred to as White Ants, but did you know a termite is not actually an ant? Termites belong to the Isoptera family, a completely different group of insects than true ants. Fun fact: they are more closely related to the cockroach than the ant.


It is easy to see how termites got their nickname, white ants, though. They are similar in appearance to an ant and exhibit similar social behaviours. Ants and termites live in colonies and come out together to feed. Their colonies both have a queen, males that reproduce and ‘workers’ that gather food and build and defend the nest.


As professional pest managers, we always refer to termites as termites, not white ants, because that is their scientific name. The inspections and treatments we use for termites differ significantly from ants, so we need to ensure there is no confusion.


How do you know if you are looking at a termite or an actual ant?

Not all species of termites are pests. However, identifying termites is a specialised skill, so it is best to get a professional termite inspection by a timber-pest-qualified pest manager if you suspect you have termite activity on your property.


The tell-tale signs of termites are:

  • A pale brown to white body with a darker-coloured head

  • No waist between the thorax and the abdomen

  • Bead like antennae

There are 250 different species of termites in Australia. The most destructive species is the Coptotermes acinaciformes. They are found all across the country and live in fallen trees, stumps, live trees, spaces under buildings and even wall spaces. They build networks of underground tunnels from the nest site, which can reach wooden structures up to 50 metres away!


It’s easy to see how termite damage can escalate quickly without detection. Unfortunately, the damage is often excluded from your building insurance and is commonly only discovered when it’s too late. Regular inspections by a timber-pest-qualified pest manager are your best defence. A termite problem identified early can be controlled to minimise damage to your property and your wallet.


termite white ant inspection


Termite / white ant control

When it comes to eradicating a colony of termites that are already hard at work munching through timber, the first step is to identify the species. This is a crucial step because different species of termites require different treatments, and certain species must be reported to the appropriate authorities. Once the nest has been located and the species confirmed, we will choose the most suitable treatment and eradication method and get to work.


Of course, preventing a termite infestation is the smartest method of control. You can prevent termites from taking up residence in your property by having annual termite inspections, using termite-resistant timber in built structures, keeping your property free of wooden debris and installing a termite management system.


What is a termite / white ant treatment or management system?

At Spiderman SE, we are accredited to provide both soil, and baiting and monitoring systems. Our pest technicians will assess your property and advise which method will provide the best protection for your property.


Soil systems involve applying a liquid termiticide to the soil around your property to create a treated zone. We use the Termidor range of liquid termiticides. When a single white ant or termite comes into contact with a Termidor treated zone, it will unknowingly transfer it back to the colony on its body, infecting termites that have not even been near the treated zone. Termites can’t detect Termidor due to its non-repellent technology, so they can pick up a lethal dose while foraging in treated areas.


If your property is situated on a sloping block or you have particularly rocky soil, a baiting and monitoring system may be a more suitable termite management option. We use the Sentricon Always Active system, which involves placing termite baits secured in a plastic housing in the ground around your property, providing continuous protection from day one.


termite white ant inspection


Never had termites? Keep it that way



Call Spiderman SE today for a termite or white ant inspection and management plan. Considering buying a property? We do pre-purchase termite and timber pest inspections too.



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