Have you found termite damage in your home and there is a pile of dry timber coloured pellets? This could be from Drywood Termites and are called frass (faecal pellets).

Now, don’t get confused with Black Ant debris. Ants will biff out their rubbish and leave a pile of seed kernels, pieces of timber, deceased ant bodies and any other unrequired material. If you can rub this debris between your fingers it will feel gritty and coarse. Whereas, Drywood termite frass feels smoother and regular in shape.

If you are confused, send us a close-up photo. Send a request

Should you be concerned? YES

Termites eat timber – your house! The thing with Drywood Termites they are very hard to detect and eradicate. Unlike Subterranean Termites, they don’t need a source of moisture to fuel them and they don’t need to be in contact with the ground. They can be chewing away inside your home and you just wouldn’t know it.

There are two types of Drywood Termites found in Queensland – Native and West Indian. Native Drywood Termites are less destructive as their colony size is small and the area of damage is topical, normally isolated to one area. Whereas, the introduce West Indian Drywood Termite can develop into a very large colony and cause considerable damage.

The West Indian Drywood Termite was first discovered in Maryborough in 1966 and Brisbane in the late 1970s. They are known as the world’s most destructive Drywood Termite. They caused considerable economic damage to timber-in-service (structures like houses and commercial properties).

Scientific names
  •  Cryptotermes brevis – West Indian
  • Cryptotermes primus – native Drywood Termite – relatively widespread and common in the sapwood of house stumps and tree stumps
Description &  Identification of Cryptotermes Brevis – West Indian

  • Alates: winged reproductive Queens and Kings
    • have a pair of hairless membranous wings about equal size
    • body is medium brown
    • about 11mm long with wings
    • wings detach on landing.
  • Soldiers: They have the large brown heads – the ugliest termite!
    • have a white body
    • about 4–5mm long
    • dark head which is plug-like and deeply wrinkled
    • head is about 1.4mm wide.
  • Recognise infestations by piles of frass (faecal pellets) associated with timber. These may conceal extensive termite galleries.
    • from hoop pine is characteristically reddish brown, gradually turning black with age
    • is typically larger and more pointed than that produced by the native drywood termite, C. primus
    • is distinguishable from ant debris, which contains fibres or parts of dead insects.
  • Timber close to the frass pile will have a small hole (1mm diameter) but this may be sealed and difficult to see.
Timber they are commonly found in:

  • pine, especially hoop pine (old VJ’s and floorboards)
  • cabinet woods such as
    • maples (Flindersia species)
    • red cedar (Toona australis)
    • silky oak (Grevillea robusta).
Drywood Termite inspection | check

The regular termite inspection for subterranean termite specifically excludes Drywood Termites. There are no Australian Standards on how to inspect and treat Drywood Termites. The detection devices used for Subterranean Termites measure moisture and temperature variations. Drywood Termites activity just doesn’t give these signatures.  So it is vitally important that you need to use a company that has experience and knowledge. But if you know the habits of drywood termites as well as check regularly yourself, this will be the best protection against these pests.

Treatment for Drywood Termites

If you have found Native Drywood Termite activity, the removal of the affected timber(s) is the best way to eradicate. Remember, Native Drywood Termites are very topical in their infestation. Normally only one floorboardor in one specific area.

If you suspect you have found West Indian Drywood Termites (WIDT) on your property, collect a sample of the frass or termite wings and, if possible, several soldiers. Call us to arrange an special inspection now on 3088 2100.

Or contact Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries  Customer Service Centre for advice.

If is WIDT, under the Queensland Biosecurity Act 2014, the monitoring and fumigation treatment costs are free for the homeowner once it has been confirmed by the relevant personal in the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries.

Resources and research

Find out more about drywood termites in Queensland.

Read about the Prevention and control program for West Indian drywood termite to manage and reduce the pest in areas where it’s detected, and prevent its spread in Queensland.

Distinguish between subterranean and drywood termites.