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Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Does this look like termite frass?

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Question
Insect droppings?
Insect droppings?  
Frass?
Frass?  
QUESTION: Hello, in one of my rooms (our sunroom) there is sawdust type residue on the furniture next to one wall.  I have searched for the source of this residue but can't find it.  Do you think this might be termites?  
Thank you.

ANSWER: Bill,

Probably not termites. Termites do not usually kick debris out of the colony as some other insects do. This also does not look like the type of dust made by powderpost beetles. What is directly above this area, can you take a picture? If you wipe this material up how long does it take to re-appear? Post a follow up and I'll help you figure this out.

Jack DeAngelis



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

sunroom photo2
sunroom photo2  
sunroom photo1
sunroom photo1  
QUESTION: Jack, thanks so much for your quick response.  Directly above the debri are my house eaves which I haven't yet inspected.  This sunroom was added onto my brick house about 10 years ago.  The photos I previously sent you showed the accumulated residue after about one week.  If I wipe the material up, it begins to show after a couple of days.  I thought that this might be from drywall termites.  I hope not.  I am planning to remove the soffit for inspection either today or tomorrow.  Appreciate your help.

ANSWER: The material in the original photos looks similar in color to the brick grout. Is this material gritty, sandy like grout? Drywood termite pellets are very distinct in shape and color (see http://www.livingwithbugs.com/drywood_termite.html for info), this material does not look like these pellets to me. I am most curious about the board that is just below the ceiling. Are there small holes in the board? At this point I'm leaning toward spider droppings, possibly from webs associated with the ceiling or from behind the board. Let me know what you think.

Jack DeAngelis


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

Termite? Carpenter Ant?
Termite? Carpenter Ant  

Ant like insect
Ant like insect  
QUESTION: Hello again Jack.  Yes, the brick grout is gritty and I've thought that may be the debri.  I couldn't get good access to the soffit yet.  When I looked at the accumulated debri again I caught this little guy walking nearby.  Maybe a Carpenter Ant?  Or it may just be a stray ant.  Most of the debri is gritty but there is some that are white soft specks.  Thanks again for your time.

Answer
Not a termite. I can't see it clearly enough to be certain but it could be a carpenter ant or a winged stage one of the smaller ant species. In either case it is probably not the source of the debris. Could most of the debris be just grains of sand from the grout? The softer material could be dropping from spiders (technically called spider poop :)). Has anyone disturbed the brick/grout surface that would cause release of the sand? In any case I don't think this is reason for concern.

Jack DeAngelis  

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Jack DeAngelis

Expertise

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.

Experience

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

Publications
see www.livingwithbugs.com/resume.html

Education/Credentials
Ph.D. in Entomology

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