What’s the difference between ants and termites?

Ants vs. Termites: Identifying the Threat to Your Melbourne Home

Australia’s vibrant ecosystem boasts a diverse range of insects, but two can wreak havoc on your home: ants and termites. Often mistaken for each other, these tiny trespassers require different approaches for eradication. This comprehensive guide equips you with the knowledge to differentiate between ants and termites in Australia, identify signs of infestation, and choose the most effective pest control methods.

Understanding the Distinction: Physical Traits and Behavior

While ants and termites share some superficial similarities, closer inspection reveals key differences in their physical characteristics and behavior. Here’s a breakdown to help you identify the culprit:

Body Shape:

  • Ants: Possess a well-defined “waist” separating the thorax (midsection) from the abdomen.
  • Termites: Have a more rectangular body with a broad thorax and abdomen seamlessly connected, lacking a distinct waist.


  • Ants: Have bent or “elbowed” antennae.
  • Termites: Have straight, bead-like antennae.

Wings (if present):

  • Ants: Have unequal-sized wings. The front wings are noticeably larger than the hind wings.
  • Termites: Have equal-sized wings that are often longer than their body and shed easily after swarming.


  • Ants: Typically dark-colored, ranging from black and brown to reddish-brown.
  • Termites: Light-colored, often appearing white, cream, or yellowish-brown.


  • Ants: Primarily scavengers, feeding on sugars, proteins, and other organic materials. They don’t eat wood but may excavate tunnels within it.
  • Termites: Feed on cellulose, the main component of wood. They actively consume wood, causing structural damage.


  • Ants: Build nests in various locations, including soil, under structures, and inside walls. They may exploit cracks and crevices to enter homes in search of food and water.
  • Termites: Primarily nest in or near soil, and build mud tubes to travel between the soil and wood they consume.


  • Ants: Highly visible, especially worker ants foraging for food. They may establish trails leading to food sources.
  • Termites: Light-sensitive and avoid exposure. They typically remain hidden within wood or their nests.

Signs of an Infestation in Your Australian Home


  • Presence of ants: Observing ants, especially trails of ants, inside your home is a clear indicator.
  • Frass (insect droppings): Tiny piles of sawdust-like material near cracks or entry points might suggest ant activity.
  • Rustling sounds: In rare cases, large infestations within walls may produce faint rustling noises.
  • Damaged food: Ants are attracted to sugary and greasy foods. Look for them around pantries or areas where food is stored.

Termites in Australia:

  • Mud tubes: These distinctive mud tubes on foundation walls or exterior surfaces are a telltale sign of termite activity.
  • Hollow-sounding wood: Tapping on wood that sounds hollow could signify termite damage within.
  • Discarded wings: Finding shed wings, particularly equal-sized wings with a fragile appearance, near suspected entry points might indicate a termite swarm.
  • Door sticking: Warped doors or windows due to structural damage caused by termite pest controlfeeding.

Dealing with the Threat: Effective Pest Control Strategies

For Ants:

  1. Identify the Ant Species: Different ant species require specific control methods. Knowing the type of ant helps choose the most effective treatment.
  2. Eliminate Attractants: Seal food sources, clean up spills, and store food in airtight containers to deter ants from entering your home.
  3. DIY Treatments: Depending on the severity of the infestation, consider using ant baits, sprays, or gels strategically placed near ant trails or entry points. You can refer to our article “How to get rid of ants?
  4. Professional Pest Control: For large-scale infestations or recurring problems, consider seeking professional pest control services. They can employ targeted treatments to eliminate the queen and disrupt the colony. Contact us for an ant control service today if you are facing one.

For Termites in Australia:

  1. Inspection is Crucial: A professional pest inspection is essential to identify the type of termite (subterranean, drywood, etc.) and assess the extent of the damage.
  2. Chemical Treatment: Professional pest control companies utilize specialized chemical treatments to target termites and their colonies. These treatments may involve soil barriers, bait stations, or direct wood injections.
  3. Physical Barriers: In some cases, physical barriers like termite shields or mesh can be installed around the foundation of your home to prevent future infestations. 
  4. Ongoing Monitoring: Regularly monitor your home for signs of termite activity, especially after the initial treatment. Schedule follow-up inspections with your pest control professional to ensure complete eradication and prevent future infestations.

Preventative Measures to Keep Your Home Pest-Free:

  • Moisture Control: Address any moisture issues around your foundation and in crawl spaces. Leaky pipes, clogged gutters, and poor drainage can attract both ants and termites.
  • Seal Entry Points: Regularly inspect your home’s exterior for cracks, gaps, and damaged weather stripping around doors and windows. Seal these entry points to prevent both ants and termites from accessing your home.
  • Maintain Your Yard: Trim back tree branches and vegetation away from your house. This eliminates potential entry points for termites and discourages ants from establishing trails near your foundation.
  • Store Firewood Properly: Don’t store firewood directly against your home’s exterior. This provides a readily available food source for termites.
  • Regular Inspections: Conduct thorough visual inspections inside and outside your home for signs of ant and termite activity. Pay close attention to areas like basements, crawl spaces, attics, and around wooden structures.

The Importance of Professional Pest Control for Termites in Australia:

While DIY methods might be effective for minor ant infestations, tackling termites in Australia is a different story. Here’s why professional pest control is crucial for termite infestations:

  • Expertise in Termite Species: Australia has several termite species, each with unique behaviors and nesting habits. Professional pest control companies have the expertise to identify the specific termite species plaguing your home and tailor a treatment plan accordingly.
  • Access to Specialized Treatments: Professional pest control companies utilize specialized chemical treatments and equipment not readily available to homeowners. These treatments are more effective in eliminating entire termite colonies and minimizing the risk of re-infestation.
  • Experience and Knowledge: Pest control professionals have the experience and knowledge to locate hidden termite nests and effectively treat affected areas. They can also recommend preventative measures to minimize the risk of future infestations.
  • Insurance and Warranties: Many professional pest control companies offer warranties on their termite control services. This provides peace of mind knowing you’re covered if termites return within a specified timeframe.

Peace of Mind Through Professional Help:

While dealing with any pest infestation can be stressful, termite damage can have significant financial repercussions. Early detection and professional intervention are crucial to minimize the damage and protect your property value. By partnering with a reputable pest control company like us, you can ensure a safe and effective solution for eradicating termites in Australia and regain peace of mind in your home.


Differentiating between ants and termites in Australia can be challenging, but understanding their key characteristics and behavior is crucial for effective pest control. By implementing preventative measures, regularly inspecting your home for signs of infestation, and seeking professional help when necessary, you can protect your property from these destructive insects. Remember, early detection and intervention are key to minimizing damage and safeguarding your investment.