Termite, a small insect. Termites are sometimes called "white ants'' because of their slight resemblance to ants and because they live in colonies as ants do. However, they belong to a different order of insects. Termites are widely distributed around the world, primarily in the tropics, but also in temperate regions. Most termites eat wood and wood products, destroying trees, wooden structures, and paper.Most termites eat wood and wood products.