Identify the pests: what do termite droppings look like?

All animals have to defecate, no exceptions.

Hunters know that a pile of animal feces is a true sign of this animal’s presence nearby.

Needless to say termites leave their waste products behind as well.

They are called ‘droppings’ or ‘frass’. If you see them, it means the termites are here.

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What do termite droppings look like? First of all you should know that, like anything that relates to termites, appearance of their feces varies depending on what type of termites they were dropped by.

Drywood termites leave dry feces reminding sawdust. In fact, Drywood termites’ frass is often confused with sawdust and ignored. To tell one from the other, you should look carefully preferably through a magnifying glass.

Unlike sawdust, which looks more like small shavings and slivers, the frass consists of multicolored (light white and dark brown) granular pellets.

If you look closer, you may notice that a Drywood termite pellet has six concave surfaces and rounded ends, which makes it similar to a deflate football or an oblonged pea; all the particles are more or less of the same length (~1 mm).

Of course, those pellets are not scattered all over the floor, they are formed in mounds or trails.

Learn more about drywood termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment: spot treatment and DIY methods; how to get rid of them in furniture?

Despite the fact that Dampwood termites don’t usually affect houses, you should probably know that their termite feces look practically the same as Drywood ones’, whereas Carpenter ants’ frass looks completely different: their frass resembles the scraps produced from sharpening a pencil and different shavings are different in shapes and sizes.

It’s vital to know what their Subterranean termites’ droppings look like, because they are considered even more destructive than the Drywood ones.

Subterranean ones produce not solid, but liquid excrement; and, in contrast with Drywood termites, they mostly don’t dispose it, they use it as a construction material, mixing it with their saliva, dirt and debris.

So, their droppings are generally not dropped, they exist within their constructions – mud tubes, through which they crawl toward new food sources and nest walls.

The fact that this type of pests utilizes its frass means that the absence of termite frass pile cannot serve as a reason to think that they aren’t there.

Learn more about subterranean termites: signs of their activity; best methods of treatment and DIY methods. Eastern subterranean termites and their tunnels and tubes with photo.


What does termite frass look like, see pictures below:

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So, as you can see termite droppings in house are look like sawdust.

Places to check for Drywood termite frass

    • Floor. If you noticed termites’ feces on the floor, it means that they had probably infested it. Yet, if you floor is wooden or laminated, you can easily confuse termite damage and water damage of it.
    • Carpet. The main nutrition for termites is cellulose, but when they fail to find one, they can dig into such non-cellulose items like carpets.
Check underneath and you may see the pellets.
  • Window sills. It is the fact, that the signs of presence pests in the house are termite droppings, window sill is the most common place, where you can find them. Since these areas may be moisturized, termites are likely to settle in them.
  • Bed. Termite droppings on bed is common case. If you see them there, it means that they’d probably fallen down from the ceiling. Check the ceiling for the holes from where they could have come.
  • Basement. It may be moist in there.
  • Crawl space. The same reason.
  • In and around wooden porches.
  • Isolated corners of seldom used rooms.
  • Behind furniture that is rarely moved.
  • Sub-roofs.
  • Eaves.
  • Attic.

Photo 9Places to check for mud tubes:

  • Chimneys.
  • Empty wall spaces.
  • Basement.
  • Shower recess.

In shortly, in any wet place. To find out what places can be wetter than other, think if there’re:

  • Leaking pipes.
  • Faulty plumbing or guttering.
  • Broken roof tiles.

These are the ways to a building they usually go:

  • In-fill patios.
  • Fire heaths.
  • Expansion joints and cracks in concrete slab flooring.

Are the excrements dangerous?

Although termite excrement is a bad sign, fortunately they aren’t toxic. Incredibly, but they are even edible and rich in magnesium.

Some African savages have been historically using them as a dietary supplement. However, like any feces, they are to be removed to avoid pathogenic germs reproduction.

Besides, they may trigger allergic reaction when touch the skin and probable cause asthmatic attack.

Other “kinds” of droppings

Feces are not the only things termites leave behind. As you possibly know, termite alates shed their wings after mating, so you may well find the wings, which is also a clue of termite presence in your house. Check:

  • Spiderwebs.
  • Wooden floors.
  • Window sills.

What to do after you notice one?

Once you see the frass, start looking for the colony.

Just take a screw driver and poke along the wood where the droppings were found.

If the termites have already eaten some cavities out, the sound will be hollow.

Compare the sound with the sound of a definitely non-infected piece of wood.

Also check the vicinity for ‘kick holes’.

Here you can learn more information about effective treatment method called tenting (fumigation): dangers for termites, preparing for fumigation and cleaning after, how long does this procedure last?

How to clean the frass?

There’s nothing difficult in cleaning of the Drywood termites’ droppings. Simply take a broom and a shovel and sweep them. Mud tubes are not much harder to remove. Just do the usual routine, as if it’s just a stain of mud:

  1. Scrap the surface.
  2. Brush the surface.
  3. Steam clean it, if necessary.
  4. Paint on a boron timber preservative (optionally) adding a quaternary ammonium compound.
However ridiculous it sounds, instead of cleaning all the frass at once, you may well keep a bit of it so that a professional can have a look and say whether it’s a termite dropping or not.

After all, the mound you misread as frass may appear just a pile of dust. But if it’s proved to be frass, so go and try to exterminate the colony by yourself or ask that very specialist for help.

Useful articles

If you interested in more information of termites we recommend you to read the following articles:

Helpful video

Watch video for even more pictures of droppings:


Hope this article was useful for you and that will help you to correctly identify termite droppings. In sum, Drywood and Dampwood termites’ droppings are:

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  • Multicolored.
  • Each of the same size (about 1 mm).
  • Hexagonal.
  • Round-ended.

Subterranean frass is liquid and used by them for building purposes. Termite frass identification is not a very difficult procedure.

Even though these droppings are clue to infestation, they are practically not harmful per say, so you won’t need to see a doctor after being nearby. But what you need to do is to find the colony and destroy it.

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