Impact Pest Elimination Blog

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What is Frass and How Can I Identify It?

TermitesOne reason why drywood termites are so destructive is that they generally leave few signs of their presence. When termites establish themselves in the woodwork of your home, they cover up the entry hole and do not re-emerge until the colony reaches a certain size and there is a swarm of young termites looking for a place to start a new colony. The nest provides the termites with everything that they need to survive except for space for the colony to grow. As the nest starts to fill up with the remnants of digested wood, the termites will clean the nest by pushing out the fecal matter, known as frass, through small holes in the wood. It is these small piles of frass appearing out of nowhere that often provide the first sign of a termite infestation.

The Termite Digestive Process:

Drywood termites get their nutrition from wood cellulose. The bacteria and protozoa in the termite’s digestive system break down the wood into compounds that are absorbed as food. The undigested portion is excreted as frass.

How to Identify Frass:

Drywood frass typically resembles sand mixed with coffee grounds, but the color can vary based on the color of the wood. Despite the color, the pellets themselves always have the same shape. Frass pellets measure about a millimeter in length and are oval with rounded ends and six concave sides. Subterranean termites do not leave behind visible frass. They use their droppings to construct mud tunnels along walls and foundations. Unlike other types of fecal matter, termite frass does not smell and does not pose a health threat.

What To Do if You Notice Termite Frass:

If you notice termite pellets around your home, it is important to contact a professional pest control company for an inspection as soon as possible. We recommend leaving the frass in place until after the inspection since it can help the inspector locate all potential active sites. Should you have a swarm of termites, collect a sample in a small bag for out inspector to identify. For more information about our termite control and other pest elimination services, contact us today.

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