By focusing on the history of white ants in colonial South Asia, this article shows how insects were ubiquitous and fundamental to the shaping of British colonial power. British rule in India was vulnerable to white ants because these insects consumed paper and wood, the key material foundations of the colonial state. The white ant problem also made the colonial state more resilient and intrusive. The sphere of strict governmental intervention was extended to include both animate and inanimate non-humans, while these insects were invoked as symbols to characterize colonized landscapes, peoples, and cultures. Nonetheless, encounters with white ants were not entirely within the control of the colonial state. Despite effective state intervention, white ants did not vanish altogether, and remained objects of everyday control until the final decade of colonial rule and after. Meanwhile, colonized and post-colonial South Asians used white ants to articulate their own distinct political agendas. Over time, white ants featured variously as metaphors for Islamic decadence, British colonial exploitation, communism, democratic socialism, and, more recently, the Indian National Congress. This article argues that co-constitutive encounters between the worlds of insects and politics have been an intrinsic feature of British colonialism and its legacies in South Asia.