Insect guide > Ants > White Ants

White Ants

White Ants(Order Isoptera.)
Although from their peculiarities of structure the insects of this group form a distinct order, there are not many genera or species, and there is in fact but a single family, namely, the Termitidae (unless the curious family Embiidae be included here, which would not seem to be justified). All isopterous insects are known popularly as white ants. As the late Dr. George Marx once remarked jocularly to the writer, "they are called white ants because they are not ants and because they are not white."

At this late date it is almost hopeless to attempt to change a popular term so thoroughly grafted upon the literature and upon the popular mind, but if people would only call them termites, a short and easy word to pronounce, instead of keeping up the bald misnomer - white ants - the cause of accuracy and truth would gain.

Perhaps there is a slight superficial resemblance between these insects and ants, but they are structurally radically different. They belong at the opposite end of the insect series and are more closely allied to the Stone flies, the May flies and even the dragonflies, than they are to ants. Perhaps, after all, it is not so much the resemblance of the individual termite to an ant which gave it this name as it was the fact that all termites live together in communities containing different castes and that thus their social economy is in a way ant-like.

Go to Termites or Termite Pest Control for more information on termites.