Carpenter Ant Frass vs Termite Frass

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Termites and carpenter ants both produce droppings, which can be confused for one another if not properly identified. So how to differentiate between carpenter ant frass vs termite frass.

Termites’ frass is typically found in a pile on the ground, whereas carpenter ants’ frass will be scattered around their nests.

Ants’ droppings are more cone-like in shape and are wood shavings colored black or brown. There is a lot of confusion around carpenter ant frass and termite frass because they both look sawdust-like.  

So, continue to read to find out more about the carpenter ant frass vs. termite frass. 

Identifying carpenter ants and Termites

carpenter ant

Carpenter ants (Camponotus) and termites (Isoptera) produce frass, or droppings, as they eat through wood. For identifying carpenter ants and termites, see the following points:

Carpenter Ant Frass vs Termite Frass

Termite frass

Components of Frass

There are four main types of frass- wood, carpenter ant droppings or fecal matter, soil and gravel, and insect parts. Carpenter ant frass is created when the wood-destroying insects eat the wood. Different insects create the other three types of frass that either live in or consume soil.

Termites and carpenter ants differ in their eating habits, which results in different frass components. Termites eat the wood they are infesting and digest it to create a sawdust-like material called frass.

Carpenter ants, however, consume the wood but do not digest it; they excrete a sticky liquid substance that dissolves the wood, which is then digested by bacteria. This unique digestive process results in the two types of frass having different appearances and characteristics.

Termites’ droppings and digested wood make up the majority of their frass. On the other hand, Carpenter ants eat their nestmates or die while excavating the wood. It is why carpenter ants’ frass has little to no wood.

Identification of Frass (Physical Differences Termites and Ants)

Carpenter ant frass is wood shavings, while termite frass is oval-shaped. It is important to identify which type of insect is causing the damage to treat the problem properly.

There are several ways to identify frass. One way is by its shape and size; carpenter ant frass is smaller and has a more varied color, while termite frass is larger and has brown and tan colors.

Another way to identify frass is by the insects that produce it: carpenter ants expel their frass from the nest, while termites digest their food in their gut and excrete their waste outside the colony.

Placements of Frass

Carpenter ants and termites produce frass or droppings, but their placements are different. Carpenter ant frass is usually found in piles near the entrance of their nests. On the other hand, Termite frass is spread out throughout their nests.

Carpenter ant frass is found around their nest. They chew and leave bits of chewed-up wood around the entrance hole and inside the nest.

On the other hand, Termite frass is scattered around their nests beneath damaged wood. Termites will eat away at the wood until it’s weak enough to break, and then they’ll build their nests in it.

Getting Rid of Frass

Carpenter ants produce a lot of frass, but it is not as harmful as the frass produced by other pests. While you still need to clean it up, it is not as urgent or dangerous as getting rid of termite frass.

The first step in getting rid of frass is to clean it up using a paper towel, disinfectant, and protective gear. Once the area is cleaned of frass, you will need to appraise the furniture to see if it can be repaired or replaced.

Signs of termites frass (Termite Droppings)


Termites can leave their droppings, or frass, in different places to forage for food. Some common signs of termite frass are:

  • Droppings around the bed (a sign of infestation on the ceiling or roof above)
  • Wooden window frames and sills
  • Cracks on your floor (or water damage)
  • Underneath your carpet (watch out for holes in your carpet)
  • Basement wood beams, debris, and foundation
  • Crawl space and stairs
  • Basement walls and woods
  • Small segments in tunnels and buildings

What does termite poop look like?

Termite droppings, or frass, are the waste that termites produce. This waste can be a good indicator of termite presence. Termites produce two types of droppings- drywood and subterranean.

Drywood termite droppings look like wood-colored pellets and are usually accompanied by exit holes. Subterranean termite droppings are wood shavings and are usually accompanied by mud tubes.

What does carpenter ant poop look like?

Different types of pests produce different types of frass. Carpenter ant frass often includes small wood fragments, while termite frass may include droppings and other insect body parts.

Carpenter ants leave their droppings, or frass, behind wherever they go. This frass is a telltale sign of an infestation, as carpenter ants are attracted to areas where wood is in decay.

The frass will be moist and may have a chemical smell. Carpenter ants can be found in many places, including moist wood and structures.

Are carpenter ants as bad as termites in wood destroying pests?

Termites and carpenter ants are both pests that can cause significant damage to wooden structures. However, termites are much more destructive and take longer to detect than carpenter ants.

Termites leave distinctive frass (a waste product) different from the frass of carpenter ants. Carpenter ants typically only infest wood that is already damaged, while termites will also infest healthy wood. 

How to prevent carpenter ants vs. termites? (Control for Carpenter ant and termite damage)

Two types of pests often cause damage to homes: carpenter ants and termites. While they both can be a problem, there are some key differences in how to prevent them. 

  • Carpenter ants are attracted to moisture, so checking for moisture areas and reducing soil contact around structures can help. It would help if you also created at least a 4-inch barrier between your home and mulch, as this is where termites tend to nest.
  • Carpenter ants can easily be controlled by changing and eliminating the conditions that attract them. It includes turning off outdoor lights at night, directing storm drains to empty a few feet away from your home, and getting rid of moisture problems.
  • In addition, it is important to remember that firewood can act as a bridge for insects to enter your home. Make sure to cut back any limbs or branches that are long enough to facilitate an infestation.


Frass is the waste produced by insects, specifically ants, and termites. It is not harmful to humans, but it is best not to handle it as it can be messy. Carpenter ants and termites both cause damage to homes, but in different ways.

Carpenter ants burrow into the wood, while termites eat away at the wood until it collapses. If you see any such pests in your home, call a professional to assess the situation and take preventative measures of the warning before the insects cause significant worst structural damage.

About the author

A biotechnologist by profession and a passionate pest researcher. I have been one of those people who used to run away from cockroaches and rats due to their pesky features, but then we all get that turn in life when we have to face something.