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White Ants vs regular ants

There are over 3000 species of ant native to Australia.

Regular Australian ants are a nuisance but cause little damage and are quick and easy to exterminate.

White ants or termites as they are more commonly known are the number one threat to Australian home-owners. White ants infest up to 200,000 Australians homes a year causing an average of $7000 damage to each property.

Here is our guide to telling the difference between regular ants and white ants in Australia.


How do White Ants & Regular Ants Differ?

Regular ants are easy to identify. They have long, dark coloured bodies with clear segments and their heads are topped with long, thin antennae. You’ll find them both indoors and outdoors, always close to a food source and they love human food!

White ants in Australia are shorter and fatter – their bodies don’t have any clear segments and they are usually an amber or sandy colour. They don’t have eyes and their thick antennae sit on large head segments. Unlike regular ants, they live inside wood structures and you’re unlikely to see them during the day. However, you may hear them munching on their favourite food – wood!

You won’t see white ants near your food or rubbish and, as they prefer to nest inside wood, you’re unlikely to find a nest in your home. Unfortunately, their love of wood means that they can cause considerable damage to your home.

For this reason, it’s important to recognise the signs of a white ants infestation.


How to to recognise the signs of a white ants’ nest:

Regular Ants

ants in nest

Regular ants in garden soil


  • Regular ants look just like the ants you see drawn in cartoons. They have long, dark bodies with clear segments and long, thin antennae.
  • Regular ants can live anywhere with a food source. You can discourage regular ants by making sure there is no food left out or scraps or crumbs on the floor.
  • Regular ants are very easy to spot, in daylight you will see them inside and outside. They do not hide from humans or burrow into wood.
  • Regular ants do not eat wood. They do not munch on your fixtures and fittings.
  • Regular ants only build nests in pre existing spaces. Regular ants have no interest in eating into your home, they only want to find a space for a nest.
  • Regular ants are attracted to food or leftovers from the bin. Regular ants eat human food and rubbish.


White Ants (Termites)

termites in wood

White ants in wood


  • Australian White ants have shorter, fatter, amber or sandy coloured bodies with no clear segments. They have no eyes and large head segments with thick antennae they use to move around.
  • White ants live inside wood, it is unlikely you will actually see a white ant in daylight. Although you may hear them chewing!
  • White ants eat only wood. They are not attracted to the food you eat or the rubbish you make.
  • White ants cause a lot of visible damage to your home. A white ant nest has lots of key signs, always be on the look out for these signs in your home.
  • White ants eat into wood and build their nests, it is rare to see a white ant nest in the open inside your home.
  • White ants are much harder to find. To establish whether your home has a white ants nest you will need to look around for the key signs of termites in your home.


There are a lot of similarities between regular ants and white ants, it is easy to see how you can get confused. Key similarities are:

ants nest

A regular ant’s nest

They both build nests

Always look out for nests in your garden and in your home. Regular ants build nests in in your garden or potted plants. White ants build nest inside or around wood, normally in your home’s timber frame or your garden trees.


They both live in colonies

Regular ants live in one large colony that moves around your home depending on the season or the amount of food available. White ants spread colonies all over your home. They live in multiple nests and locations. If you see a white ant colony in your home, it will not be the only one.


All ants have ‘Swarmers’

termites shedding wings

White ant swarmers shedding wings

‘Swarmers’ are winged ants which leave the nest to establish new colonies. Regular ant swarmers, known as flying ants are easy to spot. White ant swarmers burrow into woodwork as soon as they

can and hide. All swarmers shed their wings, so keep an eye out for these discarded wings on your window sills or around your skirting boards.


All ants leave debris

Regular ants leave faeces and piles of sawdust as they do not eat the wood that they chew at. White ants leave faeces but no wood residue as they eat the wood. White ant faeces may be mistaken for sawdust as it looks similar, you probably won’t want to inspect this too closely though. The easy way to tell the difference is faeces will appear in several places, frequently.
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Having a Problem with White Ants?

With more than 3000 species of ants living in Australia, it’s hardly surprising that we encounter them so often. However, while regular ants are easy to get rid of, finding white ants in your garden or house is a much more serious issue. White ants (also known as termites) are a major threat to Australian homeowners and are known to infest up to 200,000 homes throughout Australia every year. As they can cause thousands of dollars of damage, they must be dealt with promptly.

If you’re not sure whether you have white ants, here are the signs you should look out for.

How to Tell Whether You Have a White Ants’ Problem

Regular ants and white ants share many similarities and so this can make it more difficult to identify whether you have a white ants’ issue.

  • They’re both nest builders. However, while regular ants prefer to build theirs in your garden, white ants will build their nests in or around wood – their favourite places being inside timber frameworks or in trees.
  • They both live in colonies. Regular ants live together in one large colony and often relocate to be near food sources. White ants live in smaller colonies comprising of multiple nests and locations. If you are unlucky enough to find one white ants’ nest – unfortunately there will be more.
  • They both have swarmers. These are ants with wings which are sent out to establish new ant colonies. As swarmers shed their wings, you may find traces along your skirting boards or on windowsills.
  • They both leave debris: All ants leave behind faeces and on first inspection, it can look the same. White ants’ faeces will be found in many different locations.

The only way to be entirely sure that you have a white ants’ infestation is to call in your local pest control specialists to evaluate the situation. Read Less


what to do if you have a white ants in your house

If you have an ant infestation on your property it is always a good idea to call a trusted pest control specialist team to assess the problem.

A regular ant infestation is annoying but a proffesional termite exterminator It is always best to check what type of ants you have in your home and to get professional advice on how to eradicate the white ant problem.

The only way to be entirely sure that you have an infestation is to call in your local pest control specialists in Dubbo to evaluate the situation.

Have you had problems with white ants? Let us know your experiences in the comments below…