What Do Termite Droppings Look Like?

Termites are sneaky animals.

And this is why they prefer to eat wood from the inside out rather than from the surface to keep themselves anonymous.

Now, like other animals, termites also defecate after eating. Oftentimes, these termites’ droppings are the only pieces of evidence you get of termites’ existence.

But their poops are hard to identify for the untrained eye.

This is why many people often confuse these termites’ poops with sawdust.

Whereas, there is a clear-cut difference between the two if you look much closer. For those who can,  some of them cannot tell whether the droppings are dangerous or not.

So, on that note, this article will walk you through what termite droppings look like and also tell you about how dangerous they can be to you.

Not only that, but we will also tell you where in your house to find them, and how to get rid of the termites that produce them. In fact, we will also tell you how to spot whether the termite droppings at your place are old or new.

What Are Termite Droppings Called?

A termite dropping is a name given to the waste matters released by termites.

Like many other things though, termite droppings also have other different names.

These names include termite poops, termite feces, and termite pellets. But amongst all these dubs, “Frass” is one of the most prominent.

But while Frass might sound like a fancy name for termite poops, the truth is; that Frass isn’t just termite poops alone.

Instead, it refers to a pile of termite excrement mixed with some sawdust.

Oftentimes, they are pushed out of a termite nest through a certain opening designed just for the purpose.

Surprisingly, termites, especially dry wood termites, spend so much energy making these excretory holes to maintain their hygiene.

So, let’s explain. You see, dry wood termites, just like their names, live within their food source; wood.

Behaviorally, these termites wouldn’t want to navigate within a tunnel of food filled with their own excreta.

As such, they look to other places to deposit their droppings. One way they do this is by flushing out the poops through the holes. In the end, a combo of poop, sand, salt, and sometimes, pepper is formed. This combo is what is called Frass.

What Do Termite Droppings Look Like?

Generally, termite poops often tend to be tiny, oval-shaped, less than 1/20th of an inch, and light-brown.

This size and color make these droppings resemble brown salt grains or as many people describe it; sawdust.

However, this color can deviate from the usual brown to very dark colors (like black). This deviation often depends on what the termites in question eat.

But on a more specific note, some termite droppings do take on different looks. This look often depends on the type of termite species.

In the United States, common termite species can include damp wood, subterranean, or dry-wood termites. Though many experts agree that the most common species in the US is the dry wood termites.

As for drywood termites, their poops are tiny, oval-shaped, and armored with six concave sides and rounded ends. With this size, these droppings can form small mounds just underneath the kick-out holes. These kick-out holes are formed when drywood termites need to push frass out of their nest.

Normally, these mounds often look like small piles of salt, dirt, sawdust, or even pepper. So, once you see any of these mysterious poop piles in your home, you should probably be looking for ways to prevent a full-scale infestation of drywood termites.

Aside from Their Poopings, What Are Some Other Signs of Termites?

While Frass may be an indication of termites in your house, it’s not the only marker you have at your disposal.

There are several other ones.

The most common include mud tubes, discarded wings, and even wood damage. However, these household markers you see depend on the termite species you have at hand.

But then, these things are often unrecognizable to untrained eyes.

The reason is that termites are so sneaky that they could be nesting in your home for many years.

This, they do, without you noticing.

Yet, they would destroy your household items for that without leaving any traces at all.

Because of that, your termite protection plan must be top-notched.  Not only that, you must follow up with close and regular inspections.

Where Should I Look for Termite Droppings?

Termites are often attracted to any part of your house where they can find wood. Such areas can include:

  1. On your bed – if you see termite poops on your bed, what this means is that termites have probably infested in your roof or perhaps, the ceiling above your room.
  2. On your wooden window sills and frames.
  3. on your floor, especially in the cracks. Oftentimes, termite poops in these areas might look like water damage. So, you may need to look much closer to tell the difference.
  4. Underneath your carpets and rugs. Here, try to look for the holes in your carpet, this may help you identify the poop areas.
  5. Inside Wooden banisters
  6. Around Wooden Porches
  7. In the Basements
  8. Crawl spaces
  9. Within isolated corners in less frequently used rooms or storage areas.

Can You Tell if a Drywood Termite Infestation Is Old or New by the Color of Their Droppings?

The short answer is no.

But then, we understand that normally, if you put a freshly cut piece of wood under the sun and rain for a year or so, it will darken in color. Some agree that the same thing applies to the droppings of drywood termites.

In fact, many times, pest companies do inform property owners of the old or new infestations using the colors of termite poops alone. But then again, when we talk about the duration of drywood termites infestation and their poop colors, you have to consider many variables to determine this.

For one, a piece of wood has many rings on the inside. These rings are so made by the varying percentage of moisture that the tree has received over its lifetime. Because of that, those rings can be very different in color. Now, depending on where the infestation is located, drywood termite poops can either look the same or different. If the termite feeds on pine, ash, birch, poplar, and maple, their poops often tend to look the same all through.

When these termites eat dark-colored wood like oak, redwood, mesquite, cherry, and the likes, their poops have different colors even when they are released on the same infestation. Since most of our homes are built with softwood that has a very light color. Here, termite droppings often tend to have a uniform color.

However, in the subareas and attics, termite droppings often have different colors. This is because the attic is a place with a lot of dust and dirt on the norm. These have the ability to mask droppings. Though, their original color still remains.

As such, one of the most effective ways of differentiating old or new termite infestation is to remove the masks on these termite droppings first. Then, you can clear them off, and wait to see if new ones will be shed.  This works a lot better.

Are Termite Droppings Dangerous?

The answer is NO. In fact, termite dirt piles have actually been recognized to be rich in magnesium.

Some African tribes even use termite dung as a dietary supplement. That’s oddly yummy, right? So, we think it suffices to say that the toxicity of termite droppings in your home if you should spot them, should be the least of your worries.

Termite Droppings Vs. Sawdust.

Termite Droppings

In most cases, termite poops look a lot like sawdust.

The biggest of these differences lie within the shape of the droppings and sawdust. You see, termite poops are much smaller compared to the grains of sawdust. These small droppings always come in a 6-sided shape.  On the flip side, sawdust has tiny shavings and silversides.

Though, you may not be able to identify this slight difference at first. In fact, you may need a magnifying glass. But even when you do, termite droppings will always tend to be granular pellets. Oftentimes, these pellets may vary in color.

In fact, if you look close enough, you’ll notice that Drywood termite pellets look almost like a deflated football or an oblong pea under magnification. However, Drywood termite droppings aren’t the only kind of termite to be on the lookout for.

Subterranean Vs. drywood termite droppings.

Oftentimes, the intensity of a termite infestation depends on the species of termite involved.  In the US,  two particular species caught our attention. By name, they are the Subterranean and Drywood termites. Though the Subterranean termites are potentially the more destructive between the duo. But you should make sure to look out for the two of them.

In terms of their poops, subterranean termites release liquid droppings. On the flip side, drywood termites produce dry poops. As such, drywoods are tidy. In fact, they often push their poops out of their living spaces from time to time.

However, subterranean do mix their liquid poops with dirt, debris, and saliva. Combined, they use this mixture to construct some sort of covered termite superhighway and mud tube that they use to travel to their next food source. Of course, this could just be within your house.

Aside from that, Subterranean termites also make nests with their droppings. But because of the fluid nature of their droppings and their extensive use in nest making, you may find it impossible to find discrete piles of their waste. As such, they’re harder to spot than Drywood termites.

So, you should always remember that the absence of termite poops cannot be used to discount the likelihood of an infestation. To find these termites, the following places should be on your checklist within your house:

  1. In chimneys;
  2. empty wall spaces;
  3.  inside the wall cavity;
  4.  leaking pipes;
  5. shower recess;
  6. faulty plumbing;
  7.  guttering;
  8.  broken roof tiles;
  9.  in-fill patios;
  10. fire hearths;
  11. expansion joints;
  12.  cracks in concrete slab flooring and much more.

Carpenter Ant Droppings vs Termite Droppings.

Both may appear similar. But then, you can easily identify them with certain characteristics that differ between the poops of termites and carpenter ants. Among them, the major difference is that ants leave their frass around their nest openings. On the other hand, termites are more likely to scatter their pellets.

Apart from that, ant droppings are much larger and bulkier. This is because they often contain bits and pieces from other ants the ants in question have eaten. However, termite droppings are, oftentimes, more processed and much finer. This is why termite poops look just like sand.


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