Frass: A Key Sign of Drywood Termite Infestations

Termites can wreak havoc on the wooden structures in your home, leading to structural damage and a decline in appearance. One consequence of termite infestations that people don’t often talk about, however, is frass — or termite droppings. Anyone who lives in an area where termites are common should know the basics about frass, how to identify it, and how to clean it up.

What Is Frass?

Because termites consume wood, frass is mostly wood. It tends to take on the color of the wood the termites are consuming. If they are eating a pale wood, like pine, the frass will be a lighter brown in color. If they’re eating a darker wood like red oak, the frass may be the color of coffee grounds. 

Frass looks like tiny pellets; if you look at them closely, you will notice that they are six-sided. Frass is dry to the touch, and some people do mistake it for sawdust or dirt. 

Where Do You Find Frass?

Termites produce frass as they are burrowing through wood and consuming it. They kick the frass out of the wooden structure, so it piles up on the floor by that structure. Common places to find frass are underneath window and door frames, along baseboards, and at the edges of porches. If termites are feeding on ceiling structures, the frass will often fall scattered onto the floor below where you may sweep or vacuum it up without noticing. 

What Kind of Termites Create Frass?

If you are seeing frass in or around your home, you have a type of termite called drywood termites. These are different from the subterranean termites that live below ground and emerge to feed on moist wood. 

Drywood termites will feed even on wood that is in great condition. They build their nests inside the wood, too. Because they don’t need moisture to thrive, they can often be found in attics and ceilings — places where you would not ordinarily find subterranean or dampwood termites.

Drywood termites can cause serious structural damage, so if you see frass and think you may have these pests in your home, you need to contact an exterminator immediately. Depending on the extent of the infestation, your exterminator may fumigate the home or spot-treat the infested wood.

Is Frass Harmful?

In the meantime, while you are awaiting extermination, you may wonder how dangerous the frass itself is. Luckily, unlike rodent droppings, termite droppings are not known to spread any infectious diseases. They can, however, cause allergy symptoms in some people. Touching the frass directly may make your skin itchy, or you may develop respiratory symptoms if you inhale frass particles.

How Should You Clean up Frass?

Before you clean up frass, put gloves on to protect yourself. A face mask is not necessary but can be a nice addition, especially if you have known allergies. Since the frass is pretty dry, you can typically vacuum or sweep it up. Then, give the area a once-over with an all-purpose cleaner for good measure.

Once an exterminator works on your home, keep your eyes out for additional frass. Clean the area regularly so that you can easily tell if more frass appears. If the frass stops appearing, it’s a good indication that the insecticides have effectively killed the termites. 

Although frass itself is not as dangerous as rodents or even cockroach droppings, its presence is an important alert of a termite infestation. If you have found what you think to be frass in your home, contact Craig & Sons Termite & Pest Control, Inc. We’ll use eco-friendly and traditional methods to destroy a termite infestation and save your home from future damage.