Termite droppings

With termites, their droppings are either liquid or solid, and this depends on the type of termite in question. Did you know that termites are the only insects that make full use of their droppings in as many ways as possible, literally?

Many species of termites make use of their droppings in their nest construction or as a defense mechanism. The most prominent display of droppings are from the drywood termites, and to a slightly lesser extent, the dampwood termites. Basically, these are the two termite types whose droppings take on the form of solid pellets. Other types of termites excrete liquid droppings.

Drywood termite droppings

Drywood termites use their solid droppings as a defense mechanism to block and seal up tunnels and galleries. They excrete liquid droppings when the weather is wet, or if they have to seal up an exposed tunnel urgently; but more commonly, dry droppings, which have all the moisture extracted while in their intestines, to preserve it. Excess droppings are periodically “kicked out” from their nests via tiny kick holes opening out to the outside world.

Drywood termite droppings

Above - Drywood termite droppings may appear dark or light in color, even from the same nest.

Drywood termite droppings

Above - A chair infested by drywood termites reveals their droppings beneath the upholstery and a kick hole.

Drywood termite droppings

Above - Drywood termites use their droppings to seal off their galleries and keep intruders out.

These kick holes are opened and closed by using a sealant, which is as you guessed, their liquid feces. The dry form of their droppings is a main sign of their presence in a piece of timber. These are 6 sided, hexagonal, egg shaped granules, which feel a little rough if stepped on. They are also commonly called termite frass.

Drywood termite droppings as sealant.

Above - Drywood termites use their liquid droppings instead of the pellet form, to seal urgent gaps. This is the close up view of a gap starting to be sealed up after about 12 hours.

Drywood termite droppings as sealant

Above - The same gap about 60 hours later, almost completely sealed off.

Dampwood termite droppings

Above - Dampwood termite droppings, which look similar to those from drywood termites.

Nests built from excrement

Many termite species construct their nests entirely from a mixture of their liquid droppings and soil or wood particles. Many species also construct their shelter tubes with a mixture of their droppings and dirt, as well as lining the inside walls of their nest with their excrement. For the termites, their excrement serves as very convenient “cement” that helps join particles of earth, soil, or plant debris together, and the finished result is quite durable as well!

Termite nest made from their droppings

Above - Termite nests constructed largely from their droppings or excrement are usually very dark in color.

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