Termites vs. Ants: How to Tell the Difference in Queensland

In Queensland, homeowners often face the challenge of distinguishing between two common pests: termites and ants. While they may appear similar at first glance, understanding their key differences is crucial for proper identification and effective pest control. In this blog post, we will highlight the distinguishing characteristics and behaviours. We’ll also talk about methods to differentiate termites from ants, enabling you to take appropriate measures to protect your home.

Physical Characteristics:

Termites and ants have distinct physical features that can help in identification. Termites have straight antennae that resemble a string of beads, while ants have elbowed or bent antennae. Termites have a broad waist and equal-sized wings when in the flight stage. Whereas ants have a narrow waist and wings of different sizes.

Body Shape and Colour:

Termites and ants differ in their body shape and colour. Termites often have a more straight, cylindrical body without a defined waist, and they are generally pale or creamy white in colour. In contrast, ants have a segmented body with a distinct waist, and their colours can vary, including black, brown, red, or a combination of these hues.

Winged Reproductive Stage:

Both termites and most ants have a winged reproductive stage, often referred to as swarming However, there are notable differences between them. Termite swarmers have equal-sized wings, and their wings are longer than their bodies. In contrast, ant swarmers have longer front wings and shorter hind wings. Additionally, termite swarmers shed their wings after mating, while ant swarmers retain their wings.

Nesting Behaviour:

Termites and ants have distinct nesting behaviours. Termites build nests made of soil, saliva, and faecal matter, which can be located in trees, underground, or within the wooden structures of homes. Ants, on the other hand, create nests in various locations such as soil mounds, tree trunks, or within wall voids. Understanding the nesting behaviour can aid in identifying the source of the infestation.

Feeding Habits:

Termites and ants have different feeding preferences. Termites primarily feed on wood and other cellulose materials. This is what can lead to significant structural damage in your home. Ants, on the other hand, are omnivorous and feed on a wide range of food sources, including sweets, proteins, and even other insects. Identifying the type of damage, or where the ants / termites are found can indicate the presence of termites or ants, respectively.


Termites like to live in moist underground environments. They do not like to come out in the open and expose themselves. Termites rarely traverse open spaces, but can build “bridges” or “tunnels” of mud to pass through open spaces. You won’t see a row of termites wandering through your kitchen!

Ants however come in a wider variety of species, most of which will crawl through the grass, along your benchtops and through your pantry for example.

Pest Control Measures:

Once you have identified whether you are dealing with termites or ants, appropriate pest control measures can be implemented. For termite infestations, contacting a professional termite controller is a must. They can assess the extent of the damage and recommend effective treatment options. Ant infestations can often be managed with baiting, sealing entry points, and maintaining cleanliness. Depending on the size of the colony, a pest control service might be better equipped to get rid of ants in your home.

Being able to distinguish between termites and ants in Queensland is essential for implementing the appropriate pest control measures. If you are not sure, don’t panic. Just call us. We can commonly tell the difference for you over the phone, and then suggest a way of dealing with the problem.

If you have found termites, just leave them alone. It is better to get a professional to deal with it, and disturbing them has the potential of making the treatment process more difficult.

We hope this post has been useful for you and if you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

If you have a suspicion that funnel ants might be occupying your outdoor living space, give the team at Termite Doctors a call!


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