Carpenter Ant Frass Vs. Termite Frass: What’s the Difference?

Insects like carpenter ants and termites don’t just damage your homes. During an infestation, they also leave behind frass, which is droppings and feces that usually resemble sawdust or wood shavings. These also contain insect excrements or wood debris that are left behind when insects infest your building or home. It can be difficult to distinguish the frass from each insect since they almost look the same, but that are other ways to help you identify which insect is responsible for the infestation. 

So what’s the difference between carpenter ant frass and termite frass? The main difference between the frass from these two insects is their composition. While both frass usually consists of the insect’s droppings, carpenter ant frass contains insect parts, which is something that termite frass doesn’t have. 

Carpenter Ant Frass Vs. Termite Frass

Though carpenter ant frass and termite frass look similar, there are signs that you can look at  to make it easier for you to tell them apart: 

1) Components of Frass

Carpenter ant frass contains debris from wood, carpenter ant droppings or fecal matter, soil and gravel, and insect parts and carcasses. On the other hand, termite frass doesn’t contain insect parts; it’s usually just made of termite droppings or fecal matter and particles of digested wood or sawdust material. 

The reason for this difference lies in the insect’s eating and nesting habits. Carpenter ants don’t eat wood; they only excavate the wood to establish their nests. Frass from carpenter ants have insect parts because some carpenter ants either eat their nestmates or die while excavating the wood. Termite colonies eat wood and don’t create nests in the wood like carpenter ants. This is why the frass they leave behind mainly contains droppings and digested wood. 

2) Identification of Frass

You can also identify carpenter ant frass and termite frass by looking at their physical appearance. These two differ in the following: 

  • Shape and Size: Carpenter ant frass look like wood shavings and termites leave behind frass that are oval-shaped. Moreover, frass from carpenter ants varies in size, while termites produce uniform-sized frass.
  • Color: Frass from these insects vary depending on the wood they forage in. Carpenter ant frass is usually like light-colored sawdust, while termite frass comes in varying colors of tan and brown.

3) Placements of Frass

Analyzing the placements of frass can help you identify whether your building is infested with carpenter ants or termite colonies. Carpenter ant frass is usually found around the opening of their nests. You can find them in places underneath the nesting area such as near walls, window frames, door frames, and roof lines. On the other hand, termite frass is usually scattered around their nest, beneath damaged wood. 

4) Getting Rid of Frass

Though frass from these insects isn’t as harmful as droppings from other pests, you should still take extra precautions when cleaning them up. You can clean up frass from these insects by picking it up with a paper towel and sanitizing the area using a disinfectant. Remember to use protective gear such as gloves and face masks to prevent inhalation of viruses. Moreover, furniture or objects damaged by frass should be appraised to determine whether they can still be repaired or if they need to be replaced. 

The table below helps you understand the difference between carpenter ant frass and termite frass: 

DifferenceCarpenter Ants FrassTermite Frass
ComponentsContains wood shavings, carpenter ant fecal matter, soil and gravel, and insect parts and carcassesUsually made of termite droppings or fecal matter and particles of digested wood or sawdust material
IdentificationShaped like wood shavings, vary in size and look like light-colored sawdustOval-shaped, uniform-sized, usually tan or brown 
PlacementFound in the openings of nestsScattered around their nest
SanitizingSanitize using a paper towel and disinfectantSanitize using a paper towel and disinfectant

Pest Control at Pinnacle Pest Control

Eliminating frass involves identifying which type we are dealing with here and using the right treatment for it. Failure to clean properly can create more serious problems and even affect the health of humans and pets. At Pinnacle Pest Control, we provide the best solutions to help eliminate different kinds of pests and clean up the mess they leave behind. Call us today to know more about our services. 

Learn more: How Do Termites Get Into Your House? Your Guide To Termite-Free Living

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