please tell me these aren't signs of termites!

toad_caJanuary 22, 2006

We found these neat little piles on our kitchen window sill. Can anyone help us identify what they are?

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Well, honestly they look like drywood termite pellets to me :(

I would call a termite company out, hopefully you haven't cleaned up the piles yet. Good luck!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 12:08AM
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Ever seen mouse droppings? It sure looks like furry little critters spent the evening on your windowsill munching food you either left out or the crumbs from the previous night's food preparation. I have to admit that I've never seen them so neatly piled up though!

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 10:30AM
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No, those aren't mouse droppings. I'm sure Toad would prefer they were though. They are piled up very neatly though, aren't they? Is there a hole under them?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 7:25PM
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no hole. I admit I wiped them up after taking the pictures. I know, not the best idea.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2006 at 8:14PM
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Anything in the ceiling above?
Do you have kids? I'm thinking someone put something like coursely ground black pepper there!

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 9:21AM
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At first, I thought our pepper mill had sprung a leak because that's exactly what it looks like. But the mill doesn't sit there and we only have two pesky cats who aren't quite that inventive.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 10:47AM
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Termites and/or carpenter ants are not that inventive either. Plus the stuff is bigger than their butt.

It looks about the size of mouse poop but mice don't poop in neat little piles and they don't poop brown and black.

My guess is you either have a person playing a joke on you or a mentally handicapped bird trying to build a nest. Hey, it happens.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 6:15PM
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The two types of termite I'm familiar with stay out of site, inside your lumber. They wouldn't leave anything like that. You'll see carpenter ants, but they don't leave that kind of stuff. It looks like peppercorns.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2006 at 11:56PM
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I know Catherint swears I'm nuts for saying it's mouse droppings, but the black eliptical shapes at the edge of the piles sure look it! Mice do gather food that they find and take it by mouthfuls to their nest. I often find little caches of bird seed, for example, tucked in hidden niches of our garage. I'm suspecting that mice were attempting to move whatever it was that they considered food to a place of their choosing and got stopped when daylight came and you discovered their handiwork!

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 8:52AM
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I now wish I'd put a finger or the tip of a pencil into the picture so you could get a better sense of the size. These really are tiny granules. Think ground pepper (if ground pepper came out round) instead of peppercorns.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2006 at 10:17AM
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Would you describe them as being the size of poppy seeds? smaller?, sesame seeds? Did you notice any difference between the light & dark colored ones. Are they elongated like they look in the pictures or are they round? Did they have blunt ends (if elongated) or pointy ends? Were the dark ones black or brown? About how many inches across are those piles? Print out these good pictures and mark the measurements of the metal piece and the piles.

Could you find a few of the droppings that might still be caught in the mechanism or in the cracks? Hit the window all around above & frame & see if you can cause any more to fall out.

If you take or mail those and the pictures to the Agricultural Extension agent of your county, they have an entomologist who can probably identify your problem. They are also going to want a description of the frame of the window--eg is there wood above the area of the piles either directly over or in the vertical frame that is near enough for these to have 'poured' like this into piles rather than bouncing from 6 feet up. The more information you give them , the better result you can expect.

In Orange County, it is in Anaheim. In the phone book look in the county govt. pages under R--Resources & Development Management/Agricultural Center Commissioner, for their phone # and address. They will connect you to the entomologist for their hours etc.

I think the other counties in CA have an Agricultural extension office also (which may well be listed in the phone book county pages under A.)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 1:18PM
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I think there's some tom foolery going on your partner maybe? Or you?? :)

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 5:13PM
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catherinet, I really wish it were! Nope, this is the second time too (I cleaned up the first and hoped for the best).
aliceinsocal: they're a little larger than poppy seeds, but just a little. Nothing falls out when we slap the wood.
We are renters, so we're going to put in a call to our landlord and see what he wants to do. We've made a copy of one of the photos to send to him. A neighbor who's had termites (a long time ago) said that these don't look anything like what he's seen, so I'm thinking some kind of ant. I'll be sure to let you all know when we do. But I do appreciate everyone's input.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 9:46PM
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Isn't it too dark for wood? What's up above? This is a real enigma. Please keep us posted. It sort of reminds me of those crop circles made by aliens! If you find more, save them in a plastic bag. Maybe a lab could test them for you. Did you smell the stuff, or grind it in your hand? I'm curious what it would feel like. Have you found them anywhere else? Can you follow a few pieces of them to anywhere else?

    Bookmark   January 27, 2006 at 10:30PM
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Looks and sounds like carpenter ant waste. The color varies with the condition of the wood the ants are excavating.
Carpenter ants do not consume the wood (like termites) just excavate galleries to live in. They typically need soft wood (from moisture usually) to get a start, but then continue to excavate until the wood gets to hard/dry.
Mice droppings are about the size of grains of rice.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2006 at 10:31AM
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Sorry I never got back to this. But I've had a few e-mails, so I figured I should up-date. These are indeed termite droppings. We told our landlord, but he seems more inclined to put doing anything off. He did hear about a non-toxic (to humans and pets) approach that entailed using citrus oils. I know, I know. But we injected lemon juice into the little holes and the termites stopped digging there. I'm sure they just went elsewhere, but at least the stuff wasn't getting all over our kitchen sink area anymore.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 5:01PM
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Termites usually nest underground. Look for mud tunnels against the foundation walls or in a crawl space. Don't delay, hire a pro. Don't try to poison termites yourself.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 5:40PM
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I had termites (drywood, not subterranean) a few years ago and this looks similar to what we saw. It was on the window sill like you've got, and also in an exterior doorway. In both spots, there was a tiny hole visible in the ceiling above the pile.

The pellets were very fine, and I was almost thrown off by your picture because they look kind of large there. But in the second photo I can see that the pile takes up only a small area on the window sill.

The good news is you're renting!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2007 at 11:15PM
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