Termites are unwelcome guests in any place that contains anything made of wood — which is to say, any house at all.
There are numerous species of these tiny creatures, some more common than others. They have in common that they both cause havoc in our homes by feasting on wooden walls, floors, and furniture.
Termite droppings are frequently the first sign of an infestation, which can go undetected for a long time because the critters leave the surface of whatever they consume intact. This article describes how to identify and treat termite poop.
- 1 Everything to know about Termite droppings
- 1.1 What are Termite Droppings?
- 1.2 What are termite droppings, and what do they look like?
- 1.3 How Do You Determine If You Have Termites?
- 1.4 What type of droppings do different termites produce?
- 1.5 What is the difference between Sawdust and Termite droppings?
- 1.6 Is termite dropping a sign of an active infestation?
- 1.7 What should you do if you see termite droppings in your home?
- 1.8 How to get rid of termite droppings?
- 1.9 How to DIY a termite control trap
- 1.10 Obtaining Professional Assistance
- 1.11 How to Avoid Future Infestations
- 1.12 Are termite droppings dangerous?
- 1.13 How to identify termite infestation from the droppings?
- 1.14 Subterranean Termite Frass Vs. Dry Wood Termite Frass
- 1.15 Are termite droppings flammable?
- 1.16 Can you use termite droppings as fertilizer?
- 1.17 How to determine if termite droppings are old or new?
- 1.18 FAQs
However, before we continue learning how to detect termite feces, let’s clear up a common misconception about the subject. It is related to what is known as termite jargon.
When you start researching pest droppings, especially in the context of wood-destroying buggers, you may become perplexed by how some people say frass is another word for droppings while others say they are two separate things.
The truth is that frass is made up of feces mixed with various other substances. These include finely ground wood powder produced by termites as they excavate, mud, and other materials. In some species, the fecal matter that makes it up is liquid.
This means that regardless of which species you’re dealing with, you’re unlikely to notice it as such; termite infestation is mainly indicated by frass. Therefore, Termite waste is referred to as poop, excrements, feces, pellets, and frass interchangeably in this article.
Termite droppings are also called frass or pellets. Termites make tiny holes in wood to get rid of droppings and keep their nests poop-free.
The presence of droppings in a specific area indicates that termite activity is active in the home. If you notice termite pellets within a particular area, try to investigate the location where the frass was discovered.
Termite droppings can be found in the following places:
- on the mattress (a sign of infestation on the roof or ceiling above the room)
- on wooden window sills and frames on the floor, particularly in cracks (might appear to be water damage)
- underneath the carpet (search for carpet holes)
Here are the different types of termite poop and what they look like;
Pellets of drywood termites are small, oval-shaped capsules with six concave sides and rounded ends. These one millimeter-long pellets can form small mounds beneath kick-out holes. The mounds could resemble small piles of salt or pepper.
Drywood frass can vary in color depending on the type of wood termites have eaten, but all drywood droppings are six-sided.
Drywood termites clean their nests by pushing fecal pellets (remnants of digested wood) out through kick-out holes in the wood. Little mounds of pellet-shaped droppings may be found directly beneath the kick-out holes (also called exit holes).
Subterranean termites do not typically leave visible droppings. Termite tunnels that run up walls or foundations may be the first sign of an infestation. Subterranean termites use their droppings to build tunnels and mud tubes, so they cannot be distinguished from the nest.
Because drywood and dampwood termites live entirely within the wood on which they feed, you will most likely not notice their presence unless you see a swarm of droppings beneath damaged wood.
It is advisable to contact a termite control professional if you notice any signs of termites and want to discuss treatment options.
Termites cause more damage to homes in the United States than all reported natural disasters combined.
Detecting infestations early on can help homeowners protect their homes from future problems. Residents can detect pest activity early on by inspecting carefully. Termites can be identified by flying swarmers, wood damage, and shelter tubes, as explained below;
During the summer, reproductive members of termite colonies, known as swarmers, take flight in large groups in search of new locations to establish new colonies.
The easiest way to tell if termites are active nearby is to look for winged insects emerging from soil or wood. Even if residents are unaware of the pests, their discarded wings are frequently left on the floor around doors or windowsills. These are common entry and exit points because they are drawn to light.
Termites cause varying degrees of damage to homes. Drywood termites live in moist tropical areas and excavate wood powder or pellets piles. Tunneling too close to the surface can also cause wood to appear blistered.
Dampwood termite damage manifests itself as wood that is soft to the touch. Furthermore, moisture-damaged wood is the most vulnerable to dampwood termite infestation. Wood infested by dampwood termites usually has no visible external damage because the wood’s openings are plugged with fecal material.
Finally, subterranean termites are much more common. They cannot live in the open air, so they construct galleries made of wood.
On the inside, wood that appears to be in good condition on the outside may be riddled with tunnels. Tap or probe an area with a screwdriver to see infested. Severely damaged wood sounds hollow and is easily pierced.
Untreated or moist wood that comes into contact with the soil is most likely affected. Formosan termites are primarily soil-dwelling termites, but they can form aerial nests.
Termites also construct shelter tubes (mud tubes) out of dirt and wood particles held together by saliva and other liquids. Their mud tubes allow them to travel between nests and feeding areas without becoming dehydrated.
The tubes are brown and about the width of a pencil. They can be found on foundation walls or slabs, crawl space piers, attics, and floor joists. They can run across flat surfaces or hang vertically.
Scrape off a piece of the mud tube to see if the termites who built it are still alive. An active colony is present if the pests later repair or create a new tunnel.
If you learn to recognize termite droppings and distinguish them from common lookalikes like Sawdust, you might be able to detect a termite infestation before it’s too late. Termites are cunning.
They dislike being noticed. They avoid detection by burrowing inside wood instead of eating it from the outside in.
Their droppings are usually the only evidence they leave for you. All of this makes detecting termites difficult unless you know exactly what you’re looking for… Termite droppings are an excellent place to begin.
There are numerous termite species on the planet. Subterranean, drywood, and dampwood termites are all fairly common in the United States, causing considerable concern. Although feces do not differ significantly between species, there are minor differences in poop color and size, and pooping habits.
Termite droppings are typically small, light brown to dark brown pellets resemble table salt grains or Sawdust, though this varies by species. However, depending on what the termites eat, they can be very dark, even black.
A single dropping is tiny, oval-shaped, and less than a twentieth of an inch long. Drywood termites are the most common type of termite found in the United States, and their droppings resemble sawdust or wood shavings the most.
Sawdust is frequently misidentified as termite droppings. Although they appear to be the same, their shape distinguishes them. Termite droppings are 6-sided (hexagonal), granular pellets often colored differently.
On the other hand, Sawdust will resemble tiny shavings and shiny slivers rather than the granular shape of termite droppings.
Drywood termite droppings resemble Sawdust. When a homeowner sees it for the first time, they usually confuse it with Sawdust, clean it up, and throw it away without thinking twice.
The shape is the most noticeable distinction between droppings and Sawdust. If your vision is poor, you may need to use a magnifying glass to tell the difference, but termite droppings are granular pellets that vary in color.
Drywood termite droppings have a 6-sided shape if you look closely enough. On the other hand, Sawdust will have the appearance of tiny shavings and slivers rather than the 6-sided granular shape of droppings.
Under magnification, drywood termite pellets resemble a deflated football or an oblong pea. However, Drywood termite droppings aren’t the only type of termite to keep an eye out for.
Frass is not always indicative of an ongoing infestation. However, if there is a pile or more on your property, you should look for other symptoms. These are the following:
- Sagging floors;
- Doors and windows that won’t close or open properly;
- Cracks or small holes in the foundation and/or walls, possibly with paint damage;
- Mud tubes on the walls
- Discarded wings; When termites reach adulthood, they develop wings that they eventually shed. When they reach adulthood and begin to fly, they are swarmers. When the swarmers arrive at their destination, they shed their wings. If their intended destination was within your home or structure, those wings should be visible in some way.
These wings are, of course, small, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can find them. They will be found in pairs of wings that are identical.
- Sightings of flying termites
If you suspect you have termites, I recommend contacting a pest control service for professional advice because these pests are difficult to control. It’s critical to have it removed from your home as soon as possible to avoid any health problems.
However, it is not recommended that you clean up termite droppings as soon as you notice them. A pest control professional should inspect and confirm it first.
Furthermore, the skilled technician will clean it up and exterminate the active termite infestation in your home.
Many of these tests are simple enough for homeowners to perform independently. On the other hand, professional pest control technicians have extensive knowledge of termite biology, habits, and building methods, allowing them to conduct more thorough and efficient examinations.
They also have the best equipment for locating termite nests, assessing the extent of the damage, and providing termite control.
Don’t freak out if you’re dealing with an infestation. While termites are dangerous, they are not invincible, and you can usually get rid of them yourself.
We’ll show you how to do it, including finding termites and using do-it-yourself methods to get rid of them. We also have some advice on how to avoid a future infestation.
Here are some tips on how to cross-check for termites and their droppings;
- Look for indications of an infestation. Even if you don’t see direct evidence of termite infestation, that doesn’t mean you should ignore it. Sagging floors, holes in woodwork, and hollow sections of your foundation are all serious termite warning signs. You may also be able to see the termites themselves.
- Examine crawlspaces and foundation beams in your basement with a screwdriver and flashlight, tapping on the wood to check for hollowness and pushing the screwdriver into the wood to test for strength. If the wood gives easily and falls apart, you may have a termite infestation.
- Keep an eye out for termite wastes while performing this examination. Termite droppings are wood colored or darker brown excrement pellets. The presence of these droppings near weakened wood may indicate the presence of an infestation. 
- A termite nest may also be discovered on your property; a subterranean termite infestation will create a network of tunnels and tubes of mud, whereas a drywood termite infestation will appear as a nest inside the wood.
- Figure out what kind of termites you have. Two types of termites may infest your home: subterranean termites and drywood termites. The former can be found in both the soil around your house and the wood of your house, whereas the latter can only be found in wood. Drywood termites are mostly found in warm, coastal areas, particularly in California, Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Georgia. Subterranean termites can be found throughout the United States.
In addition to the foundational wood, subterranean termites can be found in wood and compost piles around your home.
Subterranean termites cause far more damage to a home than drywood termites and may necessitate different treatment methods.
Make a cardboard trap: Wet a couple of flat strips of cardboard and stack them on top of one another in an area where termites are likely to be. Since termites feed on cellulose (cardboard), this makes an excellent spot trap.
When the cardboard becomes infested with termites, remove it safely and burn it. If necessary, repeat the process several times.
Please keep in mind that this spot trap will not solve all of your termite problems. It is a quick fix to remove hundreds of termites at a time. Combine this method with other fixes to pack a bigger punch.
Consider using beneficial nematodes: Beneficial nematodes are small, unsegmented worms that act as natural parasites on garden pests such as termites.
These nematodes look for hosts, such as termite larvae, and burrow into them, killing them within 48 hours. They lay their eggs in the host’s carcass.
Beneficial nematodes can be purchased at your local garden supply store or online. There are currently about five varieties available for purchase.
Nematodes should be used immediately after purchase in soil temperatures above 60 °F (16 °C). If you aren’t going to use them right away, keep them in the fridge. Because UV light will harm them, plant them early morning or after sunset.
Allow your wood to be exposed to sunlight: Expose the termite-infested item to sunlight if it is not your home but rather a piece of furniture or an item that can be removed from your home. Termites thrive in darkness, and the sun’s heat and light will kill them. Place your furniture outside for as long as possible on a sunny day, preferably 2-3 days.
For capturing/killing termites, this method works well in conjunction with the cardboard trap method.
Freeze the termites: If you live in a rainy area and cannot expose your furniture to sunlight, consider freezing it to kill the termites. Place your wooden furniture (or parts of your furniture) in a large freezer for 2-3 days. Although this can be difficult for large pieces of furniture, the freezer method should ensure termite death if you are able.
Make use of boric acid: Boric acid is one of the most widely used and effective termiticides. In fact, it is the primary insecticide in many store-bought termiticides. Boric acid dehydrates the termite while shutting down its nervous system. Termite bait stations are the most effective way to kill termites with boric acid.
Use these steps;
- Boric acid should be evenly coated or sprayed on wood (or another cellulose material).
- Plant the boric acid bait in your garden or in an open infestation.
- Inspect the bait station regularly and replenish it with boric acid as needed. Termite carcasses should be visible nearby.
Buy and apply termite control products: Termite-control products, which are readily available at your local hardware store, are the first step in getting rid of these dangerous pests.
Termite-baiting methods or a liquid termite-killing product can be used to control termites. Place the bait near infested areas and spray the termite control product there as well.
Apply a microwave spot treatment to the affected area: Because termites are killed by heat, you can have your house heated to a high temperature to kill them.
However, because the tools required are not available for purchase/use by the general public, this must be done by a professional. Check with your local pest control company to see if this is an option for your home.
Suppose you decide that your infestation is simply too large, or that the house is simply too important to get right the first time.
In that case, you should probably contact a professional extermination service. When you contact a professional exterminator, make certain that you:
- Obtain at least three different quotes from competing companies.
- Before you hire a company, check their service record with the Structural Pest Control Board.
- Get a written agreement from the company you’re working with that guarantees complete termite extinction for two years. This may necessitate the company returning on a regular basis to check for new infestations and clear them away — at no cost to you.
Do it professionally yourself. When used for personal use only, you can legally purchase the same products used by professionals in most states. Termidor SC and Taurus SC are two top-of-the-line products that are applied as a liquid around the exterior perimeter of your home.
These items can be purchased online at a very low cost. If you are willing to provide the labor, you can treat an average-sized house yourself for around a hundred dollars and get professional results.
Keep your house or apartment dry: Termites are naturally attracted to damp and moist environments because they require water to survive. So make sure to increase your vigilance in keeping things dry, or termites will invade.
Make certain that all leaks and standing water, both inside and outside your home, are secure and dry. If possible, broom or suction up any excess water.
Dirty, wet gutters are an ideal home for termites, so keep your gutters clear of debris for added protection.
Make use of pest repellent: Adding 0.1 percent permethrin (approximately 1 tablespoon per gallon) to paint, wood polish, or wallpaper glue while building or repainting the house will keep termites away permanently.
Permethrin can even be added to the cement used to lay flooring or the glue used to lay wooden flooring. There is no additional risk of toxicity because permethrin is a safe pesticide approved for human use.
Keep wood away from your property: Termites obviously feed heavily on wood, so keep firewood and other loose tree trunks and branches away from your home.
If you keep a lot of wood on your property, you’re just inviting termites to feast. If you must keep wood near your home, cover it completely to keep it dry; this will reduce the termites’ attraction. If you must use wood, treat it with permethrin as above.
Fill in any cracks in your house: Simply caulking and sealing the windows, doorways, and cracks around your home is the first and most important step toward ensuring that termites do not invade and infest your property. Gaps around electrical wiring and pipes leading to and from your home are another easy way for termites to enter your home.
If you are concerned about a termite infestation, you should install screens on your doors, windows, and porch.
Keep vegetation 6–12 in (15–30 cm) away from your home to reduce the likelihood of termites entering.
Your house should be vacated on time: Maintaining a protective barrier around the exterior perimeter of your home is one of the most effective ways to keep termites at bay.
Fortunately, if you do it yourself with professional quality products like Termidor SC or Taurus SC, this does not have to be a major expense. Both of these contain the same concentration of the termiticide/insecticide Fipronil and are applied as a liquid around the outside perimeter of your home. Fipronil has low toxicity and is highly effective against termites and ants.
Find a New Location for Kindling: Many homes in the United States have kindling and firewood stacked against the house. We’re here to tell you that if you don’t want termites, this isn’t a good idea.
Subterranean termites thrive in these conditions and will gain entry to your home through the foundation. It is far preferable to store your wood away from the house in a shed. This also implies that large pieces of wood and tree stumps should not be left in your yard. Termites will find a giant beacon that has been left out.
Mulch Should Be Handled With Caution: Consider some alternatives to wood mulch if you are currently using it. Termites love wood mulch because it provides them with a feast. It not only provides food, but it can also provide a home and access to your home. Use different materials for mulch if possible.
There is no evidence that termite droppings are toxic or cause illness. Termites eat only natural substances (cellulose) and thus do not produce harmful waste to humans or pets.
However, the frass is similar to Sawdust and, when touched, can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions. It is certainly not healthy to have it around if you have asthma or other respiratory problems. As a result, it’s critical to have it removed from your home as soon as possible to avoid any health problems.
However, it is not recommended that you clean up termite droppings as soon as you notice them. A pest control professional should inspect and confirm it first.
The appearance of termite droppings is determined by the species of termite, such as dry wood, dampwood, or subterranean termites.
However, the droppings are generally very small, measuring about 0.04 inch in length. They are wood-colored, ranging from light beige to black, depending on the type of wood the termites consume.
The pellet is oval in shape, with six concave sides and rounded ends. These pellets, which resemble small piles of pepper, dirt, or Sawdust, can form small mounds beneath the wood holes.
These are the two most common termite species. The type of termite involved frequently determines the severity of an infestation and damage rate. Subterranean and Drywood are the two types that we want to highlight here.
Though you should keep an eye out for both, Subterranean termites have the potential to be the more destructive of the two.
Subterranean termites excrete in a liquid form, whereas Drywood termites excrete in a dry form.
The more “tidy” of the two, Dry woods, prefer to push their poop out of their living spaces, whereas Subterraneans prefer to use their liquid droppings, mixing it with dirt, debris, and saliva to build a sort of covered termite superhighway.
They travel through these poop-based mud tube highways to their next food source, which could be your house.
Subterranean termites use their droppings to build nests or use their poop-based “cement” to repair breaches in nests established deep within wood sources.
Because of the fluid nature of their poop and their extensive use of droppings in nest construction, discrete piles or mounds of their waste are unlikely to be found, and their absence cannot be used to discount the likelihood of an infestation.
So, if Subterranean termites are more difficult to detect than Drywood termites, where should one look to find them in their home?
They are most commonly found in chimneys and empty wall spaces in houses. They will also build such nests if moisture is allowed to collect inside the wall cavity regularly, such as from leaking pipes, shower recesses, faulty plumbing, guttering, broken roof tiles, and so on.
They are extremely stealthy, preferring to enter buildings through areas that are frequently inaccessible to inspection, such as in-fill patios, fire heaths, expansion joints, and cracks in concrete slab flooring.
The short answer is no. There has been no study to show that termites droppings are flammable. However, a popular story of a house caught fire due to decomposed Sawdust.
According to an investigator, the fire was started by spontaneous combustion in Sawdust caused by a termite infestation in the woodpile. According to officials, the heat released during the decomposition process can cause Sawdust, compost, or other materials to smolder and eventually ignite.
Have you ever considered the overall environmental impact of termites? Is it possible that they could ever be a positive inspiration?
A study found that soil from the top and bottom sections of termite mound structures contains potential macro and micronutrients (P, K, Ca, Mg, Cu, Fe, and Zn) that can help crop growth.
This can be important in integrated nutrient management systems, where manure, crop rotation, intercropping, or the application of commercially available fertilizer can be used to boost levels in soils deficient in these nutrients.
The study found that the tops of the termite mounds were more fertile than the bottoms and neighboring soils.
This could be attributed to the foraging activities of the ants responsible for termite mound construction. During the formation process, the ants collect organic materials from the surrounding areas and use them to build the termite mounds, enriching them with nutrients.
In addition to this, some researchers at various universities began to learn how termites and their digestive systems work, and how that could contribute to the fertility of their droppings to be used as fertilizer or even medicine.
Termite intestinal tracts contain a variety of enzymes that allow termites to convert wood, dense biomass, into food. Some researchers from the US Department believed they could replicate termite intestinal enzymes.
Replicating these enzymes and their ability to break down wood represents a significant step forward in fuel production because it has the potential to replace the costly process of converting corn and other food sources to ethanol. Learning from termite efficiency could significantly reduce energy production’s cost and environmental impact.
In addition to having powerful digestive tracts, what termites produce during their digestive process also serves as a protective agent for the termites. Termite excrement (also known as ‘frass’) is common for pest control companies and homeowners with infestations.
Frass can be a variety of colors depending on the type of wood consumed by the termites, but it is always a 6-sided pellet.
It may resemble coffee grounds but has no odor. Researchers at the University of Florida have been studying termite frass and discovered that the bacteria in termite frass can protect termites from disease and outside bacteria.
Studies have shown that Termite frass could also benefit the environment by serving as a rich fertilizer and, in some cultures, a traditional medicine.
Termite colonies in the dry savannahs of Saharan Africa and Northern Australia help to improve crop yields by making dry land more fertile.
Their constant tunneling also contributes to soil tilling and the spread of the frass over larger areas. Their frass even aids in developing new generations, as termites feed their frass to larvae to establish the bacteria required to process wood as adult termites.
Termites improve soil quality by breaking down and excreting organic matter. Their underground movements also churn the soil, allowing for better water infiltration. This animation depicts the processes by which termite activity increases nutrient availability and soil moisture, thereby increasing the productivity of surrounding vegetation.
Termites have also been used in traditional medicine to treat common illnesses such as the flu, asthma, bronchitis, whooping cough, and a dietary supplement for those suffering from protein deficiency.
Who would have guessed? No one wants a termite infestation, but consider what we could learn from these ancient little bugs if we tried. Studies have proven that termite droppings could be beneficial and used as fertilizer.
You might believe that if the droppings are old, the termites have moved on and you don’t need to deal with the problem.
This, however, is not the case!
To begin with, there is no way to tell whether droppings are new or old because they all look the same.
But it’s also unlikely that the termites have vanished. What’s more likely is that they’ve just started dumping their trash somewhere else, rather than on the pile you’ve discovered and are currently inspecting.
The rate at which the termite queen produces eggs is determined by the colony’s age. A queen will not lay as many eggs in the early stages of a termite colony’s development, but as the colony grows larger and older, the queen can lay up to 1,000 eggs per day.
The most dangerous aspect of termites for homeowners is their proclivity to reproduce more as the colony grows. What appears to be a minor, manageable termite problem at first can quickly escalate into a full-fledged infestation if left unattended for an extended period of time.
One of the most serious issues with termites is that they have an almost insatiable appetite for the cellulose found in the wood they consume.
These insects scour your wood for food 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Worse, they remain hidden, burrowed through tunnels they create in the wood, so you may not notice damage even if termites are present.
It is difficult to determine how long it takes for termites to cause significant damage because:
- Termites consume material at varying rates depending on the density of the material.
- Termite colonies can vary greatly in size.
- Termites do not always feed in the same places.
While it is difficult to predict how quickly any damage to your home will occur, you should be aware that termite colonies can contain millions of bugs in their most populous state. With this many termites eating every day, all day, severe damage is unavoidable.