How to Identify Termite Frass {Top 5 First Signs Of Termites}

Are you seeing sawdust or termite droppings, but you don’t know How to Identify Termite Frass?

Do different types of termites have different ways of excreting their droppings? What color are they and what do they look like?

In this article, we’ll explain everything there is to know about how to identify termite frass.

How to Identify Termite Frass

Termite frass is mostly digested pieces of wood. Termite frass is non-toxic and will not cause any diseases to you or your pets.

The color of the termite frass depends on the color of the wood that they were eating. Pine wood would create lighter-colored termite frass. Red oak wood makes termite frass look more like grounds of coffee.

It is as small as 0.04 inches in length. It is usually shaped like an oval with the sides concaved. You can find them in mounds that resemble piles of dirt or sawdust.

Where To Look For Termite Frass

Termite droppings are also referred to as:

  • Frass
  • Pellets
  • Shavings

Termites wish to get rid of their droppings by making holes in wood. The droppings fall through these holes and make their way to the base of the wall or in other areas.

If you see their droppings, this is a dead giveaway that you have a lot of termite activity in your house. Investigate your property to find out how many locations contain frass.

Look in the following areas:

  • on the bed
  • wooden window sills and frames
  • on the floor
  • underneath the carpet

If you see termite frass on your bed, there is a good indication that the pests are infesting the ceiling above this room.

Sometimes we may think that we have water damage on the floor when we notice cracks. This may not be true because termites can also make the cracks on the floor that resemble water damage. When looking underneath the carpet check for holes.

Why Do I See Termite Droppings But No Termites?

Termites are stealth and sneaky in the way that they can go unnoticed for a lengthy amount of time while they are consuming the wood and cellulose inside it.

You are noticing termite frass or droppings,  but you haven’t seen a single termite. Why is this so? The most likely reason is because termites are in dark spaces where you can’t up visibly see them.

The frass or pellet droppings that you are noticing is a giveaway that you have an infestation. The sooner you can spot termite droppings, the quicker you can act to lessen the amount of damage and they are causing out of sight.

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Does Termite Poop Look Like Coffee Grounds?

Termite poop can look like coffee grounds if the wood that they are consuming is dark in color. Termite poop is also referred to as frass.

You will find them in small mounds that resemble either light colored sawdust or dark colored coffee grounds. If the wood is pine or birch in color, the frass will not be as dark as coffee grounds.

If they’re consuming a dark wood such as a red oak, the frass can resemble tiny, black pellets that look like miniature dark rice grains or coffee grounds.

What Are The First Signs of Termites?

Being able to spot the first sign of termites before they can substantially damage your property is priceless.

Here are the top 5 signs that you may have an infestation of termites:

  • Stuck windows
  • Doors closing and opening with difficulty
  • Damage under paint or wallpaper
  • Termite swarmers discarding their wings
  • Mud tubes or tunnels
  • Termite droppings or frass.
  1. Make sure that you don’t have any windows or doors that feel stuck. If they are harder to open and close, this might be a sign that the wood has been damaged by termites already.
  2. If there is damage underneath paint or wallpaper or if there are visible cracks, termites may have caused this damage.
  3. Termite swarmers are winged termites who are looking for a new location to start a colony. If you notice discarded wings next to windowsills or doorways, this means they have found a new place to infest.
  4. You may also notice tubes or tunnels made of mud. These may protrude out of walls or underneath the base of the floors. You may also notice them surrounding the outside perimeter of your home.
  5. Finally, the most obvious giveaway that you have a termite infestation is the sawdust or dark coffee ground looking droppings that they leave behind. This is better known as frass.

Termites make holes in the walls that they are consuming and expel their frass or droppings out of these holes.

What Color Is Termite Frass?

If you look at termite frass closely with a magnifying glass, you may see different shades of brown. Sometimes these shades are on the lighter side such as beige or off-white. Other times it can be as dark as coffee grounds.

Termite frass can be:

  • Off-white
  • Yellow
  • Light beige
  • Dark beige
  • Light brown
  • Medium brown
  • Dark brown
  • Black

If the food source is a lightly colored wood, the color of termite frass will be lighter. You may notice mounds of drywood termite frass and see that it looks like oval shaped miniature rice grains.  This is an obvious sign that you may have a termite infestation.

How Do You Know If Termite Droppings Are Old or New?

An important part of your termite investigation is to find out if the frass you are noticing is old or new. Look around areas such as the base of walls or in the attic. If you notice a lot of dust and dirt, they can hide the termite droppings.

Termite frass will not change color according to the dust that is around it or on it. The easiest way to tell if termite droppings are old or new is to check if there has been a collection of dust and dirt all over it.

If the termite droppings are fresh, they will look exactly the same as old feces. The only difference is one has a layer of dust and dirt on top of it and the other doesn’t.

What Do Termite Wood Shavings Look Like?

The wood shavings that you are noticing from termites is actually ingested and digested feces that has resulted from a long session of eating the cellulose within the wood found in your home.

If you would like to examine the pieces of frass or droppings, use a magnifying glass. You might be able to notice that they look like tiny oval concave rice grains. They can also look like little deflated footballs.

What may seem to be simply sawdust or wood shavings is actually droppings, feces or fress coming out of termites.

Termite Droppings Vs. Ant Droppings

Comparing different types of droppings helps you determine which type of pest is infesting your home. The droppings of termites and ants look similar.

Ant droppings are usually at the entry of their nest. Termite droppings are scattered all over.

Ant droppings are harder, bigger and bulkier.

Termite Frass is smaller and resembles sawdust or coffee grounds. Termite droppings are finer grains that may look like sand.

Ants droppings

  • Near their nest
  • Bigger
  • Bulkier
  • Remains of dead insects

Termite droppings

  • Scattered all over
  • Finer
  • Deflated oval shapes
  • Range in color depending on the wood color that they eat

Termite Frass Vs. Sawdust

Are you confused whether or not you are seeing termite frass or sawdust? In many cases, they may look very similar. It could be almost hard to tell. You must take a closer look to find any differences in their shape.

The frass of a termite is hexagonal or oval in shape. It looks more granular compared to sawdust. Small wood shavings with shiny little slivers would not be able to come out of a termite.

They could be come in all different kinds of shapes and some could be sharp. In this case, you are looking at sawdust instead of termite frass.

How to Differentiate the Frass of Different Termite Species?

Drywood Termite Frass

Drywood termite frass appear from punctured holes through the wood as they push out their droppings. Their poop is tiny and oval-shaped.

It might be as long as a millimeter and you may see mounds of it piled up like a bunch of ground pepper powder. The color of drywood termite frass can vary depending on the kind of wood that they were eating.

Subterranean Termite Frass

Subterranean termite frass doesn’t look very visible. Their frass is more translucent or in liquid form. They use their feces, mixed with saliva and other debris in order to create extensive mod tunnels.

This is why it is challenging to understand what Subterranean Termite frass actually looks like. If you see expansive mud tunnels, It’s a better giveaway that you have Subterranean termites infesting the area.

How to Remove Termite Excrement

If you wish to remove termite droppings from your house, you can sweep or vacuum them up. Drywood termite frass is the most common type that you will notice.

Subterranean termites do not excrete solid droppings that resemble sawdust. They use their own excrement to build mud tunnels. Your task is to destroy and get rid of these tunnels.

It is incredibly challenging to eliminate termites on your own. This is why we advise using the service of a professional termite extermination company. They will inspect detect eradicate and prevent termite infestations from returning.

You will not have to remove termite droppings again if the infestation has been eliminated.


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