Termite droppings from the ceiling are a clear sign that your home is at risk of severe damage.
Ignore it for long, and you put your life and your family’s lives in danger.
Why? Because the roof can collapse anytime.
In this guide, you’ll find out what to do if you see termite droppings from the ceiling.
You’ll learn how and where to spot termite infestation in the ceiling and roof.
And most importantly, you’ll find out what options you’ve got to get rid of termites in the ceiling.
Plus, a lot more!
What Do Termite Droppings Look Like
Termite droppings, or frass, are pellets piles lying underneath wooden structures that drywood termites infest.
Termite droppings look like tiny oval, hexagonal pebbles with curved edges.
Termite droppings resemble black pepper grains. Most of the time, the color of frass is similar to the wood they infest.
Termite droppings are a telltale sign of drywood termite infestation in homes and other human dwellings.
Drywood termites infest homes in swarms. These swarms are reproductive termites, also known as alates.
When alates invade homes, they will mate and lose their wings.
After mating, they’ll drill inside the wooden structures.
As they can fly, they can drill themselves into higher places of a home like the ceilings, roofs, and subroofs.
Drywood termites will also get inside the structural lumber of the home, like wooden beams and joists.
Once drywood termites enter wooden structures, they’d seal the holes that they used to get inside.
And they’ll remain inside the wood, eating the wood from the inside, chewing it, and breeding and laying eggs.
The termites then create holes on the wood from inside to eject their feces (digested wood) from these holes.
That’s when you observe termite droppings underneath ceilings, window sills, roofs, and other wooden structures in your home.
But keep in mind that the wood they’re into has limited space.
It cannot accommodate all the newborn termites.
So, many alates will drill holes to get out of their current nest.
They’ll leave the nest searching for a new place to invade and start a new colony.
Detecting drywood termite infestation is pretty hard.
It’s because they remain inside the wood.
And unless you see termite droppings, you can’t be sure that there are drywood termites in your home.
Even though you spot the termite droppings from the ceiling and elsewhere, you wouldn’t notice the termites inside the wood.
That’s why many people wonder that they can see termite droppings, but there are no termites.
You can’t see the termites because the termites are inside the wood.
Do Subterranean Termites Leave Droppings Or Frass
Now you know that termite droppings from the ceiling and elsewhere are a sign of drywood termites infestation in your home.
But what about subterranean termites? Do they leave frass or fecal pellets behind?
Subterranean termites and Formosan termites, which are a type of subterranean termites, are ground termites.
These termites invade homes from underneath the ground.
They’ll make mud tubes on the walls, from the home’s foundation, to infest things like walls, books, beams, joists, floors and carpets, and furniture.
Subterranean and Formosan termites will use their frass or droppings to make these mud tubes to travel from one place to another.
So, they don’t leave their droppings behind.
Can these subterranean termites reach the ceiling?
Yes, they can, especially when the home is under attack from Formosan termites.
Formosan termites are also known as super termites.
It’s because these termites are the most destructive, have a more extensive range of destruction, and they spread and breed fast.
But instead of droppings, you’d notice mud tubes or tunnels ceiling.
It’ll look like the termite mud tubes are hanging from the ceiling.
Termite droppings are a sign of termite infestation, which is very specific to drywood termites.
Like the subterranean termites, dampwood termites also don’t leave droppings behind.
Dampwood termites infest rotting wet wood.
So, the chances of dampwood termite infestation inside the home are low.
Hence you’d find dampwood termites only in your yard or garden that has rotting damp wood.
They’d nest and remain inside those pieces of rotting wet woods.
How To Spot Termite Damage In The Ceiling – 9 Signs That You Should Never Ignore
Is it 100% sure that you’ll spot the termite droppings from the ceiling and the other structural lumber of your home?
No, you can’t be.
It’s because you may confuse it with a pile of regular dust and vacuum it off.
Termite droppings are not like fine sawdust that wood-boring bugs like powder post beetles leave behind.
So, it would help if you’re eagle-eyed about the termite damages to the ceiling.
If you’re not, then you’re putting the entire structural integrity and your safety in your home at risk.
Here are the eight signs of termite damage in the ceiling.
#1 – Cracks On The Ceiling’s Lumber
When termites, drywood termites, or subterranean termites infest wood, they make the wood hollow from inside.
That makes the wood weak.
And it also misaligns the wood from its initial position.
Both of these reasons cause cracks in the wood of the ceiling.
These cracks don’t look like regular cracks. They’ll have a pulpy edge on them that will tell you that the reason for the damages is different.
You’d also notice sagging areas on the ceiling.
#2 – The Ceiling Looks Like It’s Damaged By Excessive Moisture
The ceiling will start to look damp.
You’d notice discoloration on the surface. And also chunks of bubbles in various parts of the lumber.
When termites get inside the walls, you’ll notice the same sign.
Discoloration on the wall and peels of paints coming off of the wall will be evident.
Why does it happen?
Experts say that the moisture locked inside the wood breaks off when termites turn the wood hollow.
That causes dampness both on the wood’s and on the wall’s surface. It leads to discoloration, bubble formation, and flaying on the surface.
On tapping, you’d hear a hollow sound coming out of the ceiling.
#3 – Wobbly Roof Shingles
Termites in the ceiling and roof cause instability in the roof shingles.
That leads to the loosening of the roof shingles.
It’s because the subroof of your roof is also wood.
Even if there are roof tiles, termites will reach the subroof and damage it. That’ll also cause instability in the roof tiles.
#4 – Mud Tubes On The Ceiling And On The Walls
It’ll be evident, especially when the subterranean termites have infested the ceiling.
You’ll notice mud tubes or tunnels on the ceiling, the ceiling’s lumber, and the walls adjacent to the roof.
Termites make these mud tubes with their fecal pellets to reach new sources of wood.
#5 – Faint Sounds From The Ceiling
During times of silence, you’d also notice a head-banging sound from the ceiling.
It’s also a sign of termites in structural wood and the ceiling.
Termites make a faint head-banging sound when they’re chewing through the wood.
This sound also becomes evident when you tap on the wood or try to drill in the wood.
It’s because it alerts the solider termites inside the wood. They feel that their colony or nest inside the wood is under attack.
#6 – Tiny Pinholes On The Ceiling’s Wood
These tiny pinholes will be hard to detect unless you go close to the structural lumber or the ceiling.
Drywood termites create these pinholes either to exit their current nest as swarms or to eject the frass.
You’d notice these pinholes at random distances from each other without any specific pattern.
Pest controllers use these pinholes as a spot to drill into and inject insecticides in the wood.
#7 – Broken Wings And Dead Winged Termites On The Floor
As you know, termites with wings or alates quit their nests to lookout for a new place to invade.
These alates will come out from the pinholes. And they’re pretty easy to find near the places they infest.
But hang on. The winged insects can be winged ants too.
It’s because ants too have alates.
So, how will you confirm that they’re winged ants or termites?
It’s pretty easy. You’d need to observe it closely.
Look at their wings. If the wings are long and cover their entire abdomen, then it’s a winged termite.
Both flying ants and flying termites have four wings.
But winged ants look like a moth with two big wings in the front and the small ones at the back.
In contrast, the termite wings are of the same length.
The abdomen of the flying ants is fatter and rounder than the abdomen of flying termites.
One more difference, which you can overlook, is in the shape of the antennae.
Winged ants’ antennae are L-shaped. The flying termites’ antennae are straight.
There are also differences between ants droppings and termite droppings that you’ll find out later in the post.
Coming back to the topic, you’ll also notice broken wings on the floor.
These broken wings can be from the winged termites that died. You may notice both dead or alive winged termites on the floor too.
#8 – Termites In Ceiling Drywall
Many ceilings have drywalls.
Drywalls, also known as sheetrock, have thick sheets of paperboard enclosing the plaster panels on them.
These paperboards contain cellulose which termites eat.
Termites from the ceiling will quickly move on to the drywalls.
In many cases, termites might attack the drywall first before they move to the ceiling.
The signs of termite damage on drywalls are mud tubes if subterranean termites attack them.
In the case of drywood termite infestation, there’d be tiny pinholes on the drywalls.
Drywalls covering the ceiling are first to give in or break when termites are in the ceiling.
It’s because the drywalls are thin and weak.
#9 – And Finally, Termite Droppings From The Ceiling
Termite droppings from the ceiling are an undeniable sign of drywood termite infestation in your ceiling, roof, and even in other areas of your home.
Earlier in the post, you learned how to identify the termite droppings and where you’ll find these droppings.
In short, if there are drywood termites in the ceiling, you’ll find termite frass underneath the ceiling.
You’ll also find the termite frass underneath the tall structural lumber of your home.
The truth of the matter is that termites have infested your home no matter where you find termite droppings in the house.
How To Get Rid Of Termites In The Ceiling
In all honesty, you can’t get rid of termites in the ceiling and in your home on your own.
DIY methods work but these methods have limitations because they don’t have a deeper reach to kill the termite nests.
Termites are, no doubt, tough pests to kill.
On spotting the signs of termites in the ceiling, you’d need to hire a pest controller asap.
It’s because these termites have reached far and wide inside your home.
If they’ve infested your ceiling, then it means they’ve also infested the structural lumber that holds your home together.
A termite infestation in a home with such an enormity has devastating consequences. Your home might need a fumigation treatment.
But you can take some preventive measures to address the infestation.
That’ll at least put some brakes on the infestation spreading further in your home’s roof and ceiling.
So, what to do if you see termites droppings?
Here are the five steps that you can take right now –
#1 – Seal The Cracks And Pinholes On The Ceiling
Sealing the cracks and pinholes will stop termite droppings from the ceiling and the winged termites from coming out from the holes.
For best results, use a silicon-based sealant. These sealants are strong, and termites and bugs can’t chew through them.
#2 – Fix Any Water Leakages
Fixing water leakages near the roof and the home’s foundation will reduce your home’s moisture levels.
Moisture is an essential element for the termites to survive.
Excessive dampness in your home’s walls and foundation can cause termite infestation in your home.
Though drywood termites aren’t that moisture dependent, fixing the leakages will make your home unattractive to subterranean termites.
#3 – Clean The Gutters
Cleaning the gutters allow for better water flow. There wouldn’t be any waterlogging in the gutters.
Waterlogging makes the roof damp. It’ll also make the wood in the subroof and the main roof moist, making it easier for termites to destroy.
And gutters choked with organic debris can make all types of bugs, including ants, use the cracks and gaps on the roof to enter your home.
#4 – Use Window Screens On The Windows Of Your Home
Drywood termites swarm during the late summer or fall.
It’s during this period they become active and start looking for new homes to invade.
As light attracts them, so install window screens with fine mesh.
That’ll prevent them from entering your home.
Put these screens on your attic and foundation vents too. The winged termites can invade homes from these areas too.
#5 – Use The Right Mulch To Deter Subterranean Termites
Mulch and wood chips are a favorite thing for subterranean termites to feast on.
If you use a regular mulch, especially near your home’s foundation, then you’re inviting subterranean termites close to your home.
Once they’re there, it’s only a matter of time that they’d build mud tubes to get inside your home.
So, remove any mulch that’s close to your home’s external walls and near the foundation.
And if you want to use mulch, use the mulches that termites avoid.
Also, chop off any overgrown vegetation around your home’s foundation.
Termites might use them as a bridge to get inside your home.
Ant Droppings Vs. Termite Droppings
Just like flying ants can make you think they’re drywood winged termites, in the same way, the droppings can confuse too.
There are some minute differences between ant droppings and termite droppings.
Termite droppings look like tiny grains of black pepper, and they’re hard.
In contrast, ant droppings are soft, have thread-like wooden particles, and most importantly, they lack the hexagonal shape with curvy edges.
At times, there might be body parts of other ants in the ant droppings too.
To you, the difference might not be that evident.
Still, expert pest controllers can determine what’s infesting your home, ants or termites, based on the droppings.
Are Termite Droppings Dangerous To Human Health?
No, termite droppings are not harmful. They don’t carry any diseases.
But it can cause some allergic reactions to children, people sensitive to dust, and the elderly.
Termite droppings from the ceiling are an ominous sign of drywood termites infesting your home.
Termites in the ceiling can put your home at the risk of collapsing.
Termites in ceiling signify that termites are not only on your home’s ceiling but also in the walls, and in the structural lumber of your home.
In this guide, you learned why you shouldn’t take termite droppings in your home lightly.
Also, there’s a list of 8 signs of termites in the ceiling that must raise your alarm bells.
This post also reveals why it’s not a good idea to get rid of termites in the ceiling on your own.
It also has some preventive steps that you can take right away to stop the spread of termite infestation.
Dr. Thomas Orbert, the Microbial Maestro, dances with the tiniest of creatures as an entomologist extraordinaire! With a PhD in entomology, his passion lies in unraveling the secret symphonies of insect-microbe interactions. From minuscule marvels to captivating complexities, Dr. Orbert unveils the hidden world of bugs, igniting curiosity one buzz at a time!