10 Interesting White Ants Facts

White Ant
White Ant

The nickname ‘white ant’ is applied to some termites but it is incorrect since a true ant can not be a termite. The term white ant can be referred to as the pupae of ants, these ants can be seen when you disturb an ant nest and the inhabitants grab their eggs and pupae or it is also another name given to the termite because of the way termites look. The avarage termites that we see in our home are usually very close to a white color, however, the color of the termites varies depending on the diet. For example, dark colored timber such as redwood will have dark color termites whereas light-colored timber like pine will not change the color of the termite so much. Here are some of the interesting white ants facts,

White Ants Facts

White Ants
White Ants

Image Source:DraconianRain

  • White ants are not only limited to our homes, however, they can be seen across nearby trees, old stumps, sleepers, poorly disposed building materials, and also in areas where we have moisture such as near a leaking hot water service. The reason why ants and termites look alike is called convergence because they are two unrelated groups that will perform the same function.
  • White ants or termites are one of the major threats to Australian homeowners. It is believed that these white ants infest up to 200,000 Australian homes a year causing an average of $7000 damage to each property.

What is the difference between white ants or termites and regular ants?

  • White ants or termites differ greatly from regular ants regarding their appearance, characteristics, and dietary habits.
  • Termites are a light color and come in white or cream color and even there are instances when they look translucent, however, regular ants usually a dark color depending on the species.
  • White ants or termites have straight antennae compared to regular ants.
    All termites or white ants live off cellulose, meaning they can consume wooden structures but feed on wooden structures, plants, cardboard, and paper.
    Termites have a thick waist, however, ants have a thin waist where the thorax meets the gaster.
  • When you see a group of termites it will consist of soldier and worker termites. The termites having yellow-orange heads are soldiers. When you look even closer, you will see large mandibles used for defense whereas the worker ants have no mandibles and the head is closely colored to their body.
  • The worker termites have different dark-colored “bellies” that will entirely depend on the amount and color of the timber they are consuming in their diet.
  • Termites, are mobile, eat wood, and don’t have any obvious eyes.
  • Termites belong to the order Isoptera, whereas Ants are a family in the order Hymenoptera and thier orders doing overlay with each other.
  • Hymenoptera are holometabolous insects which means they will go through a full metamorphosis. The different development stages include egg, larva, pupa, and imago.  Isoptera are hemimetabolous which means they will go through partial metamorphosis. The development stages of hemimetabolous insects are nymph and imago where every somatic cell of both male and female Isoptera are diploid (they have the same number of chromosomes)
  • The white color of white ants or termites has more to do with the stage of development than the order since all insects are white colored immediately after a molt, however, few images are white past their first moments of being an image.

Are winged ants and termites the same?

  • The simple answer is wing ants and termites are also not the same. Flying ants also known as carpenter ants, are winged swarmers with elbowed antennae, pinched waists, and hind wings smaller than their front wings. 
  • Termites are pests found in homes, and forests and feed on cellulose of wood and paper. There are two kinds of termites such as the worker and the swarmer.  As discussed above the workers are creamy colored that measure about 3 to 4 mm long, however, the swimmers are the reproductive type, measuring about 4 mm long, and are dark brown or black in color.

What is the difference between how an ant and a termite eat?

  • Ants always struggle to eat solid food so either have to chew it to a paste (as done by most harvester/seed-eating ants) or use their larvae to break down proteins. Termites have young in the form of nymphs (basically, small adults) and the very young are fed by nurse workers that regurgitate food for them, after that they will feed on much the same food as all other adults.

These are some of the differences and interesting facts about white ants or termites. Kindly share and do post your comments.

Featured Image Source: Wikimedia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You May Also Like