How To Identify Drywood Termite Droppings, And 6 Other Ways To Find Them

Termite droppings help identify a drywood termite infestation. But they may look like other things, so here’s how to identify drywood termite droppings.

Termites are a gnawing nuisance no one wants in or around their house. Amongst the insects that can eat wood, these are one of the hardest to get rid of.

Identifying termite infestations can help get rid of them, which is why you should pay attention to some signs that confirm an infestation in your home.

One of the easiest ways of detecting drywood species of termites is by spotting their fecal matter, which is nothing but undigested pellets of dry wood.

Termites love munching on cellulose, and their colonies can be spotted all over your furniture, banisters, picture frames, dry firewood, wooden structures, and wall voids.

Let’s find out how you can do a better job at detecting their infestations by their droppings themselves!

How To Identify Drywood Termite Droppings

How To Identify Drywood Termite Poop

The most obvious sign of a termite infestation is mounds of drywood droppings, also known as frass.

If there is a drywood termite colony in your home, this is one of the only ways you will be able to save your furniture and house from turning into dust.

Drywood termites have a penchant for cleaning their homes and will push their fecal pellets away from their nests.

These drywood termite pellets look a lot like ground-up coffee beans or salt and pepper, but let’s see how you can tell them apart.

Drywood termite droppings look a lot like arborio rice. Their droppings are less than 1/25 inch long. These fecal pellets are hard and elongated.

Coffee beans, on the other hand, are differently shaped – they are a lot chippier and have sharper edges.

When seen under a magnifying lens (or a phone camera zooming in one of them), fecal pellets show rounded ends, six flattened ends, or sides with depressed ridges in between the six surfaces.

The good thing is that the termite poop is neither smelly nor full of germs. It is just leftover wood that passes through their system.

Another thing to note is that the color of the droppings almost always depends on the type of wood they are feeding on.

If the wood is off-white colored, the poop will also be a lighter shade of brown.

Termite Droppings

6 Other Signs of Drywood Infestation

Although you can inspect heaps of drywood termite poop to detect an infestation, there are a few other ways to find out more about these pests sharing your home.

These include severed wings, hollowed wood, and jammed doors or windows.

Let’s look at the signs in more detail.

Noisy Eaters

Drywood termites are noisy eaters and often make a racket by banging their bodies to alert the colony of danger.

You can hear them munching away cellulose from the woods too!

Wings

Discarded wings of winged termites or termite swarmers indicate that there are female termites currently looking for a new spot to nest in your home.

When the colonies of termites grow beyond a certain measure, these females spread out with their wings to set up a colony of their own.

Once they establish a new nest, they immediately give up their wings, which is why you can find their wings strewn all over your place. 

Termite Wings

Cream Colored Ants

These cream-colored “white ants” sport straight antennae as opposed to an actual ant’s bent antennae.

If you spot them lurking, you should get rid of them as soon as possible!

Hollowed Wood

Hollow wood or hollow wooden foundations are a telltale sign of severe termite infestations.

They consume the wood within and leave the visible surface the way it is.

Galleries of various sizes and shapes can be found inside the hollow halls made of drywood termites.

Windows and Doors That Don’t Open

Stiff windows and doors that won’t close properly are also signs of termites tunneling through them.

Termites produce some amount of moisture while devouring wood, and this moisture can sometimes cause your windows and doors to become warped.

Tunnels in Wood

Break a piece of wood from furniture or in your home, and you will be able to see clear termite tunnels in case there is an infestation.

Burrowing into your home, these pests create mud-free tunnels (unlike Subterranean termites) throughout your home.

How To Identify Drywood Termite Droppings

Frequently Asked Questions

What can be mistaken for termite droppings?

One can mistake drywood termite frass or fecal pellets for ground coffee powder with some salt, pepper, or sawdust mixed in.
When these termite pellets are put under a magnifying lens, their structure looks a lot like arborio rice and completely unlike the more crystal-like coffee beans.
They have rounded edges, and their color often depends on the source of wood that the termites are chewing on.

How can you tell if termite droppings are fresh?

One way to determine the freshness of termite droppings is by pouring water on them.
For instance, if you find a pile of sawdust-like droppings, you can pour water all over them to check if they are new or old.
If all the pellets disappear, the droppings are new. And if they don’t, they have been there for a long while.

Why do I see termite droppings but no termites?

Drywood termites are pretty smart. If you find a mound of their droppings but no termite colony nearby, it just means that they moved to another area in your house.
Termite feces might be visible because they push it out of their colonies, but they might still be tunneling through your home and furniture.

How do you tell if termites are active in your house?

Spotting mounds of termite feces, hollow timber, structural damage in the foundations of homes and furniture, long termite tunnels or galleries, white ant-like pests, flying termites or swarmers, termite wings, or hearing clicking noises are all signs of termites actively infesting your home.

Wrap Up

Do not ignore the signs of a termite infestation, and get help from pest control if you are prone to allergic reactions from insects.

Beings that leave anonymous heaps of poop, keep mysteriously clicking away inside of your home, and love a bite out of your ancestral wooden heirloom aren’t exactly the kind of housemates you would be looking for!

Keep an eye out for termite inspection, and remember to have a termite spray handy!

Thank you for reading.

Reader Emails

If you find termite droppings or “frass” in your home, it is a surefire sign that you are in trouble.

Many of our readers have asked us how to identify it over the years, with pics in tow. Read these emails and see the pics to understand what it looks like.

Letter 1 – Drywood Termite Pellets

 

Little white things coming out of a hold in wood, indoors
January 7, 2010
There is a big pile of these tiny white things in my cherry wood built-in bookcase. They are coming out of a tiny hole. Do you know what they are from? Are they termite droppings?
The coin in the picture is a US dime.
Andy
san diego

Drywood Termite Pellets
Drywood Termite Pellets

[2 hours later]  Hi there – since sending this email, I found out there are droppings from drywood termites…. thanks anyway!!
Andy

Hi Andy,
We are happy that you identified your Drywood Termite Pellets, though we sympathize that they are in a built-in bookcase.  BugGuide has only one image of Drywood Termite Pellets with some information, but there is a nice link to a UC Davis drawing showing the difference between Drywood Termite Pellets and Dampwood Termite Pellets.  Drywood Termites do not need to maintain contact with the damp earth, and they can sometimes infest furniture as well as homes.

Letter 2 – Drywood Termite Pellets, we believe

 

Subject: Eggs identification
Location: Southern California
March 6, 2015 11:06 am
Just found these eggs coming out of a hole in my couch. Any idea what this is???
Signature: Jennifer Palumbo

Termite Pellets
Termite Pellets

Dear Jennifer,
We don’t believe these are eggs.  We believe they are Drywood Termite Pellets, the name used for the fecal droppings.  According to the Clemson University site:  “Drywood termite colonies are sometimes noticed when their droppings or fecal pellets are found around the infested site. These termites make small, temporary openings, “kick-out” holes, from which they push out fecal material. The holes are later resealed. Fecal pellets are about 1/16″ long. They may be black, cream colored or a combination, giving them a “salt and pepper” appearance. Fecal pellets are often found in piles like tiny stones. Each tiny pellet has six dented sides but this can only be seen using a magnifying lens.”
  The Termites are probably feeding on the wooden frame of the couch.

Authors

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  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

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  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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