Are Termite Droppings Dangerous and Toxic? Do They Have any Risk and Hazard for Human’s Health?
Termite droppings are a source of natural antibiotics. This is the reason of our failure in a continuous war against termites. Losses after termite invasion reach about 40 billion dollars a year. Over the last 50 years the number of scientists who study termites rose rapidly and reached 125 groups in 25 countries.
Today these scientists are trying to find ways how to fight termites using fungus and bacteria, not affecting the environment. Unfortunately, all the attempts fail as termites have powerful protective mechanisms against human weapon.
How droppings look like
All droppings may look different, depending on termite type, but generally they are oval, with six small concave sides and rounded ends. They are very small, approximately 1 millimeter long. Also, droppings can be white or black.
The second name for droppings is frass, and it has the color of wood. If you ever find termite droppings, that means that most probably the surrounded area has been infected.
Usually termites make small tunnels which they use to throw extra frass out and make it easier to move inside the nest.
As far as termite droppings are very small, at the beginning you might think that these granules could be pepper or salt. But do not throw them away by yourself.
How termites use their frass?
Scientists assume that termites created a perfect way of nest protection against pest control chemicals. The insect mixes the wood that it had already chewed with its droppings and is use as a building material for its nest.
Droppings are used for making tunnels as well. After studying termite droppings scientists found out that 70% of droppings are special bacteria (actinomyces) which kill a big number of fungi and disease causing microbes.
By covering their nest with droppings, termites create conditions for these beneficial bacteria growth. Thus, termites use their droppings as a natural source of protection.
The extension of bacteria which are resistant to antibiotics makes the search of new effective chemical ways of fighting more significant. Today the origin of these bacteria is unknown. Maybe they are carried from one colony to another, or they are taken from the outside soil.
As it is known there are two important factors which identify termite presence:
- swarmers (or their wings);
If you find termite poop, it becomes quite possible to identify termite nest location. Here are the most popular places where you can find frass:
- window sill;
- any kind of wooden material.
You have to check carefully your ceiling, looking for tiny holes (as frass was supposed to be thrown out of them).
Window sill is one of the most popular places to look for signs of termite infestation. It can be full of swarmers’ wings or droppings. As far as termite likes moisture, window sills can be chosen as a place for future attacks.
Sometimes frass can be found on carpets. This is all because termites are always looking for food, no matter whether it contains cellulose or not. In this case you will find small holes in the carpet and droppings under it. If you ever discover this situation, check the area under the carpet and replace it.
Finding poop on the floor needs its extra investigation. It doesn’t matter whether the floor is wooden or laminated. For example, laminated floor infestation will look like you are having water damage (with different defects on the surface).
Are termite droppings toxic?
Are termite droppings dangerous? Termite droppings are known as non-toxic. Furthermore, some people in Africa are eating them on a daily basis.
Anyway, after identifying the problem you should get rid of poops in order to keep healthy conditions and avoid risks.
As it was said earlier, termite droppings have not hazard to human health but still there are some cases when droppings may cause allergy if touch the skin. Furthermore, some people have assumed that they had asthmatic attacks. Termite feces cause health issues, but generally they have not risk to health.
Generally, usual heating and ventilation systems eliminate all the dust from both termites and their nests. Another problem that may appear is suffering from chemicals which are usually used for termite treatment.
How to get rid of termites?
So, if you ever find termite droppings, try to identify the infested area. And remember that you’ll have to follow professional advices in order to solve termite problem.
If you find out that your house has been attacked by termites, there are some ways to get rid of them:
- boric acid;
- cardboard traps;
- sun or frost;
Boric acid is believed to be one of the most effective ways of termite treatments. The point is that the acid affects termite nervous system and it dies of dehydration (lack of water). If termite eats the wood which was poured with boric acid, it dies as well.
Cardboard traps do not solve termite problem but helps a lot. The only thing you will have to do is to place two wet cartons one on another and wait. When termites fill the trap in, take it away and burn.
Nematodes are microscopic worms, many of which parasite insects, plants or animals. As the result of their life activity, the owner’s body dies. After nematode infection a termite will die after 48 hours. Nematodes can be easily found in garden shops, but they should be put in the place very quickly, otherwise they die.
Sun and frost are the most difficult treatment ways to be done. These solutions can be good for relatively small infected objects. Wood which has been infested can be taken out to the sun. High temperatures and light kill termites. Full warming up will take approximately 2-3 days.
If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:
- All types of termites. Are they harmful to humans? Can they bite you? And what is the difference between drywood and subterranean ones?
- What does swarmers of different species look like: drywood, subterranean, formosan?
- Signs of infestation outside and in the house: in walls or furniture.
- What does termite holes look like? What is droppings? Do termites make noises?
- Posible termite damage, how does it look like? Examples of damage in walls and wood floors.
- All about flying termites: how do they look like, swarming season and what to do if there are swarmers in your house?
- How do they do nests and mounds? How to find it in your garden or inside the house?
- Termite life cycle – from egg to larvae. And social hierarchy: workers, soldiers, queen.
Possible health problems
Most probably, usual termite traps will not be enough for infested area. In this case you will have to call a professional pest control service which will use different chemicals. Sometimes this might be dangerous for people health.
Follow pest control service’s recommendations directly.
Talk to the exterminator in advance and let him know if you have any allergies. This may be important, as gases or liquids against termites contain different reagents.
Today gas treatment, for example, is the most effective way for termite treatment but is not very popular because it may cause different health risks. High level of gas distribution in the house may lead to central, nervous and respiratory systems problems, as well as damage to skin, eyes, and lungs. Of course, gas treatment is a very effective way of killing termites, as everything living at the fumigation area dies.
Methyl bromide and Vikane (Solfuryl fluoride) are the most popular termiticidal gases, but Vikane is believed to be primary fumigant gas. But there are some side effects which gas may cause:
- heart arrhythmia;
- metabolic acidosis;
- low blood pressure;
- lowered levels of calcium;
- pulmonary edema.
Remember that if you choose gas treatment, it may take several days for air ventilation after it. So, in order to keep yourself safe, you will have to wait.
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