Termites can cause significant damage to home if left unchecked. Here’s how to identify termite droppings and take the appropriate extermination steps if necessary.
Termites can leave droppings behind which can help you identify an active nest in your home. Termites droppings, are commonly referred to as termite pellets, dust, poop, or frass. Frass bears a striking similarity to piles of sawdust or pepper. These droppings are usually of a color range spanning from black to light brown.
Depending on the species of termite, their droppings can vary slightly, but they’re typically no larger than 0.04 inches. Unfortunately, these droppings won’t disappear over time, so it can be difficult to gauge how long they’ve been accumulating. To help you better understand termites and their droppings, we’ve put together a helpful guide.
Finding Termite Droppings
Drywood termites create “kick-out” holes in wood to remove their excrement and keep their living spaces clean. The small holes are not entryways, but rather they are used by the insects to get rid of their waste. If you see termite droppings but no termites in a kick out hole, it doesn’t mean that the termites are gone. On the other hand, they might have just moved to another part of the house to find more food.
You can find termite droppings near the termite nest in case of drywood or subterranean termite infestation. Finding subterranean termite droppings can be a challenge for homeowners. These termites use their droppings to form mud tunnels instead of leaving piles of droppings like drywood termites.
What Does Frass Look Like?
Drywood termites naturally live in wood and usually do not move once they find a suitable home. To make it their own, drywood termites seal the entrance and start digging in. Termite infestations can be hard to spot for homeowners due to their behavior. They typically leave droppings and kick-out holes, which may be the only signs of an infestation.
Termites are known to excrete a type of fecal matter commonly referred to as frass. The excreta bears resemblance to sand or sawdust, exhibiting an oblong shape. They may also resemble ground pepper.
The color of the frass varies based on the type of wood the termites have been feasting on. Typically, drywood termite frass is only about a millimeter in size and has six concave sides. Homeowners should be on the lookout for these droppings as a sign of a termite infestation.
Where to Find Drywood Termite Droppings?
- Porch areas made of wood.
- Amidst the boards comprising the timber flooring.
- Small openings on the floor covered with carpeting (or beneath it).
- The corners where walls meet.
Both attics and crawlspaces are often located in the uppermost or lowermost parts of a building respectively. People usually store their belongings or install HVAC equipment in attics. Meanwhile, crawlspaces are usually created to allow access to plumbing, electrical, and other systems. Properly maintaining these areas is important to prevent issues such as mold growth or pest infestations.
Homeowners may choose to use a magnifying glass to examine the termite droppings in order to identify their features.
Termite Frass, Sawdust, or Coffee Grinds?
It can be challenging to distinguish between termite frass (droppings), sawdust, and coffee grinds, especially when you come across a suspicious pile in or around your home. Knowing the differences is essential to identify a potential termite infestation and take appropriate action.
Termite Frass: Termite droppings, or frass, are produced by drywood termites as they consume wood. Frass often accumulates near infested areas and has a consistent, pellet-like appearance. The color of frass varies depending on the type of wood being consumed, but it generally ranges from light tan to dark brown. One key characteristic of termite frass is its six-sided, cylindrical shape with rounded ends. If you suspect frass, it’s crucial to call a pest control professional for an inspection and possible treatment.
Sawdust: Sawdust is a byproduct of woodworking activities, such as cutting, drilling, or sanding wood. It has a more irregular shape and texture compared to termite frass. The color of sawdust typically matches the color of the wood being worked on, and its particles can vary in size. Sawdust is harmless but can indicate recent construction or renovation work. Always examine the context and location of the sawdust to determine its origin.
Coffee Grinds: Coffee grinds are the leftover particles after brewing coffee. They have a wet, coarse texture and a dark brown to black color. Coffee grinds are typically found around coffee machines or in compost piles. While they may look similar to termite frass, they are unrelated to termite activity and pose no threat to your home’s structure.
How To Detect Subterranean Termites
Subterranean termites can be detected by homeowners through three signs because they don’t leave visible droppings:
- Groups of flying termites.
- Heap of termite wings that have been cast aside.
- Wood that has been damaged.
When subterranean termites make pellets, they are not visible like other termites. Their pellets are a wet mixture of saliva, dirt, and debris. These pellets are used to form mud tunnels, which become transportation highways for the termite colony. Termites thrive in warm and wet environments, and they can cause damage to a home’s foundations, walls, and other parts by gathering in hard-to-reach areas such as empty spaces or around leaking pipes.
Contact a Pest Control Professional at the First Sign of Termites
If you find termite droppings, it’s best to contact a pest control company. As most homeowner insurance policies do not cover termite damage, it is essential to act fast.
Pest control experts will inspect your property to determine the level of termite infestation and identify the type of termites. This is typically the initial step. Then, they will create a tailored treatment plan that may involve liquid, foam or bait solutions. Depending on the situation, some professionals may use chemical solutions, fumigation or tenting with heat to get rid of the termites.
Termite inspections may incur a fee ranging from $50 to $300. The cost may vary depending on factors like the homeowner’s location and the availability of pest control specialists. For new home buyers, it is advisable to have a termite inspection conducted before moving in. This will help ensure the stability of the foundation and walls of the new home.
The cost of pest control services may differ significantly depending on the customized plans and pest control companies. You may have to pay extra for structural repairs or if pests come back after our basic service.
To learn more about termites in Florida, check out our blog “Termites in Florida: The Complete Guide to Identification and Control”.