Termites are very destructive insects capable of causing tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your home. Unfortunately, termites can potentially remain undetected for quite some time as they quietly consume materials like wood, sheetrock paper, carpet, and fabrics. To prevent this, homeowners need to recognize the early warning signs of a termite presence in and around the house.
One common indication of a termite problem is finding their droppings. Read on to learn more about how to identify termite droppings, where they’re often found, and what actions you should take to address the problem.
What Do Termites Look Like?
Household termites are drawn to places like attics, crawlspaces, or the interior of cabinets, and chances are you won’t see these pests until there’s an extensive infestation. Termites are fairly small insects ranging from a quarter-inch to half an inch. Just like with ants, a termite colony consists of workers, soldiers, and a queen.
There are also winged termites called “reproductives” or “swarmers,” which will shed their wings after fertilization. Termites range in color from a yellow-white to a dark brown hue. Due to their straight antennae, prominent mandibles, and soft bodies, it’s relatively easy to distinguish termites from carpenter ants, wood boring beetles, and other insects. It’s even possible to differentiate between carpenter ant droppings and termite droppings with a trained eye.
Types of Termites
Among the thousands of termite species found across the globe, only about 50 species live in North America. Since termites prefer warmer temperatures, the worst infestations occur in the southern states. The vast majority of termites in America fall into three distinct categories:
These termites only eat damaged, moist, or rotting wood. Dampwood termites are among the largest termites found in the United States, as soldiers can easily reach a length of up to three-fourths of an inch. Due to their preference for high-humidity environments, dampwood termites live mostly in the southern coastal states.
Second only to subterranean termites, drywood (or dry wood) termites are among the most common species in America. Drywood termites are notoriously difficult to detect due to their relatively small colony sizes and preference for nesting in the hidden recesses of wooden infrastructure. With a drywood termite infestation, it may be necessary to cut through drywall or remove wood paneling to locate the source of an infestation. Though, you may notice piles of sawdust or wood shavings which could indicate the presence of termite colonies.
Unlike drywood or dampwood termites, subterranean termites establish their nests below ground level. They will then construct mud tunnels to reach their desired food source. Subterranean termites are much smaller than their dampwood or drywood counterparts, usually measuring no more than three-eighths of an inch in length.
What Do Termite Droppings Look Like?
If you don’t see the insects themselves, the easiest way to identify termites in your home is by examining termite poop. Also known as frass, termite droppings vary in appearance depending on the species you’re encountering. So the drywood termite droppings may look different than other termite pellets. With that said, there are multiple commonalities in termite droppings across the various species found in North America.
Shape and Size
Termite droppings are usually no more than 1 millimeter in length, composed of six concave sides. Termite frass also has rounded ends. At first glance, termite droppings can resemble a combination of sawdust, coffee grounds, and dirt. Upon closer inspection, termite droppings take on a more granular appearance.
The color of termite droppings will change depending on the type of wood the termites are currently ingesting. Darker woods will produce black-colored termite droppings, while light-colored woods will produce termite droppings that’s closer to white or light brown.
Where Will I Find Termite Droppings?
Termites like to keep their nests free of excrement and often dispose of their frass in small piles. Near found termite droppings, you will likely find a hole in the wood made specifically for removing droppings from the nest. These termite frass piles can appear just about anywhere depending on termite activity, but the most common locations include:
- On wooden window sills
- Under wood framing
- On the floor
- At the base of ceiling beams
- Under the carpet
- Along the edge of baseboards
- Low-lying areas on your property
- Near piles of wood shavings
You may be wondering, “Are termite droppings dangerous?” Not particularity, but you should always approach termite frass with caution since allergic reactions can occur. It may be best to contact a pest control professional when you find termite droppings.
What to Do When You Find Evidence of a Termite Infestation
If you’re noticing signs of termites in your Phoenix home or business, our team of specialists at Budget Brothers Termite & Pest can provide you with fast and reliable help. We will conduct a thorough termite inspection to determine the species of termite and the extent of the infestation. With over 25 years of industry experience, our termite control professionals will find the right solution for confronting your unique termite problems.
Remember, waiting to address a termite infestation could result in thousands of dollars in damage to your property. Contact us today to receive a free estimate, and we’ll walk you through the best treatment options.