Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Sand-colored frass


sandy floor
sandy floor  
QUESTION: I have been finding dry, sand-colored pellets on the floor next to my front door (picture attached).  Although these pellets are tiny, they are very hard. Look like sand but upon closer inspection are not sand.  A "sandy mess" will appear every week or two and I have been trying to figure it out.  Since I live near the beach, I initially though it was sand.  However, I'm not that messy:)  A previous post from 2008 leads me to believe this may be frass (fecal pellets) of a wood-boring insect.  If so, is it possible that the frass may be dropping out the bottom of the door....hence the sandy mess in that area alone?

Since I'm no expert, I would like to gain some confidence in what I'm dealing with prior to seeking out commercial services.  Could you please let me know what you think this is and if I'm on the right track?? Thanks for any insight you might be able to provide!!!

ANSWER:    Hi Shari
Since I am unable to inspect the area for insects I can only make a guess about this. I have seen  debris like this from the activity of carpenter bees. Are there any small round holes around the door frame. Carpenter bees are small black bumble bees that drill chambers in soft wood and lay eggs.

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Close up of frass
Close up of frass  
QUESTION: Thanks for your quick response! Had a chance to inspect the area closer and did not find any small round holes around the door frame.  I did notice that there is a small space between the floor and the bottom of the molding on the door frame....so possible entry/exit location for critters? Also attached is a close up photo of the frass.  When the frass is on the floor, it looks much lighter than when sitting against a white background.  Not sure if this new photo may be helpful for you.  Thanks again for your advice:)

ANSWER: These definitely look like insect pellets and they do resemble termite pellets. I am assuming that your door is a wooden door

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QUESTION: Yes, door is a wooden one. Did more digging around the Internet and found information on dry wood termites. Also found a tiny hole in the door & actually saw the little critter pushing more frass out of the door. The height of the hole also explains why the frass had a spray pattern I stead of being in a pile. What's the likelihood of finding more dry wood termites if no other frass locations have been identified?

I am well acquainted with the biology and habits of termites but I live in Ohio and we do not have termite problems so I cannot tell you much about them in homes. I would suggest that you remove the door however and inspect it. You should probably be on the safe side and assume they are in other areas.
 It may be a good idea if we can be sure these are termites to consult an exterminator but if you do remember to hire a legitimate company and request guarantees. I have a distrust of these companies

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Walter Hintz


I can answer any questions about insects and spiders.


I have taught science for over 57 years. I am presently teaching biology at the college level. I have done extensive graduate work in entomology.

Momentum Magazine The Ohio Journal of Science

B.S. In Ed Kent State Unuv M.Sc The Ohio State Univ National Science Foundation Fellowships: Electron Microscopy Univ of California Entomology Kent State Univ

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