Entomology (Study of Bugs)/poppy seed frass


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    Through summer and winter I keep seeing small gatherings of poppy seed sized frass around wooden furniture legs and coming out of crevices in my tile floor baseboard tiles.  I never see any bugs near these piles. I live in a basement and in the summer I get daddy long legs.  Now, in the winter I see dead ants and also little packs of live ants looking for water.  (They were under my wet boots that I left on tile floor). The house is basically sheetrock and brick but I think they are termites and are fighting the ants.  I have attached a photo.


You are outside the distribution of drywood termites (which often produce piles of frass), see red area on this map http://www.livingwithbugs.com/drywood_termite.html for where drywood termites are found. The other possibility is an ant colony in the wall. Can you see any small holes directly above these piles? Do you see the dead ants in the same area as the piles of frass?

Jack DeAngelis

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: NO, I don't see dead ants in the pile of frass but there was a small eighth of an inch bug in that photo I submitted.  I swept the stuff on a white piece of cardboard and put it under a magnifying glass and when I squished the bug with the tip of a pen, a kind of beige colored thin custard came out.  Mostly everything else disintegrated upon sweeping but the frass appeared flat football shaped. Also, in the past few weeks I have been seeing ants walking around erratically going into my bathroom or congregating around something tiny i spilled on the floor.  Otherwise they are invisible but pop up in so many different spots that I'm pretty sure that there are colonies in the walls.  I keep the place very clean and they die instantly when I spray them with ant killer but I have asthma so I don't spray that much.  How do i get rid of ant colonies in the house - My uncle owns the house and I am a tenant.  Thanks.

The best way to control ants is with baits. See http://www.livingwithbugs.com/ant_control.html for some suggestions. You can try the borate-based baits like Terro first but if the colony is large you'll probably need to use the paste/gel baits (see page cited above). Post a follow up if you have questions. Be sure to follow the instructions on the baits in terms of placement.

Jack DeAngelis

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis


I can answer questions in any area of entomology (study of insects, spiders, mites, ticks, and other terrestrial arthropods). Contact me about home and garden insects, insects that bite and sting, and insects that damage homes such as carpenter ants and termites.


20 years as university extension entomologist, now retired; currently publish a website about home and garden insects.

see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Ph.D. in Entomology

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