Bugs That Leave Piles of Sawdust

Wooden homes and structures are always prone to bugs that leave piles of dust while feeding on wooden surfaces. While bugs are small, they can cause widespread damage to your home. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than two billion dollars are spent treating bug-related wood damage yearly.

Common bugs that leave piles of sawdust are termites, carpenter ants, bees, and wood-boring beetles. Those bugs eat wood because it contains cellulose which increases their energy supply. They also create tunnels and pathways in the wood where they nest and hide from predators.

Apart from seeing piles of sawdust, other potential signs of bug infestation may include live or dead bugs, and unusual holes arranged close together on the surface of the wood. Consequently, below are the pictures of bugs that leave piles of sawdust.

Bugs That Leave Piles of Sawdust Pictures
Pictures of Bugs That Leave Piles of Sawdust

Types of bugs that leave sawdust piles

The dust left behind by those bugs is either the pieces of wood that fall as they chew or their feces. Their droppings can resemble wood because that is all they eat. Since they are tiny, their stools are likely to resemble what they eat in large quantities. Below are the types of bugs that leave sawdust piles around their areas of the infestation:

1. Termites

The main suspect is termites when you spot sawdust piles and other signs of wood damage by insects. That is because termites are the bugs that cause most structural wood damage throughout the country. The bugs eat wood infested to get the nutrients available.

The Subterranean termites heavily infest the Southeastern United States and California and are the most destructive, living and moving below the soil surface. As a result, you may notice an infestation only when there is a lot of damage to your wooden material or structure.

Try and see if you can find tubular passageways around the homemade from sand or dust connecting soil to wooden surfaces or materials. Subterranean termites exist in areas that have plenty of wood and moisture. 

Dry and damp wood termites like subterranean termites can also be highly destructive. 

Remember that the feces or frass of termites can sometimes look like sawdust or wood shavings. Still, the fecal pellets, which accumulate beneath an infected wood, are a sure sign of an ongoing termite attack.

2. Carpenter ants

Carpenter ants exist all over North America. But, generally, they infest and damage properties in the East and Northeast humid regions. In their natural environment, the bugs like attacking decaying wood and dead trees. But, inside your home, the carpenter ants are attracted to damp, decomposing wood.

As a type of ant, carpenter ants differ from termites in that their waists are defined, they have jointed antennae, and both the wings (hind and front) vary in length.

The bugs tunnel woods to create spaces for living and reproduction. The sand-like pile of sawdust that you may see results from the wood excavation. That is contrary to the popular belief that they eat wood. Carpenter ants may be busy tunneling if you hear faint, rustling sounds in your walls. 

You can also find an existing ant infestation by identifying and following trails of dark ants into your building. Look for ant trouble signs near your windows and in damp locations throughout your living space. 

3. Carpenter bees

Although found all over the USA, carpenter bees are more common in the eastern regions. In the natural environment, the bugs nest in aged trees and stumps. In your home, carpenter bees may target any of your wooden structures.

Carpenter bees also do not eat wood; they only create tunnels for nesting. The entry holes that the bugs create on the wood are about the size of your fingertip. Once an almost inch-deep hole is made, several branches or tunnels are created that provide areas for laying eggs. 

Every year, the young ones of carpenter bees build their entry points and chambers for nesting, giving way to more piles of sawdust and wood damage.

The bugs like defecating before entering their holes, and males do not sting. But, if you are considered a threat, expect a swift and aggressive confrontation. 

4. Powder-Post Beetles

The powderpost beetles are notorious for their ability to cause wood damage and leave sawdust piles. The common types of wood-boring beetles or powderpost beetles that infest wood are the true powderpost beetles, furniture beetles, and deathwatch beetles.

Even though both the Anobiid and Lyctid are small, they have their differences. The Lyctid often is attracted by hardwoods and has a visible head from above. On the contrary, Anobiids like attacking softwood structures, and their heads are not visible from above.

In addition, an Anobiid’s sawdust is gritty, while the Lyctid forms dusty sawdust or powder.

Powderpost beetles prefer laying their eggs on wood that is not treated. The larvae cannot make holes and tunnels in woods with a finish.

5. Wood wasps

Although not dangerous and do not sting, the bugs can be annoying. Wood wasps are fond of infesting pine plantations and laying eggs in trees that they have damaged. Even more concerning is that wood wasps infestation may lead to fungus formation, further weakening your wood or trees. 

Wood wasps find their way inside your home via holes created in finished wood. The good news, though, is that it is rare for the infestation of wood wasps to result in your property having severe structural issues.

Sawdust piles from carpenter ants

The presence of sawdust piles in your home clearly indicates you may have an infestation of carpenter ants. If you find yourself sweeping almost the same piles of sawdust or dump piles a couple of times, the issue may be caused by wood-boring bugs.

Carpenter ants push out unwanted dirt and debris from their habitat inside a wood, which forms sawdust piles. Those are always scattered around their areas of invasion. Huge dust piles mean there is a full colony infestation.

It may be hard to know the particular type of bug that produced the excrement or sawdust piles. Therefore, hire a pest control expert to examine and confirm the actual insect causing problems. 

Do termites leave sawdust behind?

Termites do not leave a lot of sawdust behind like carpenter ants once entry points and tunnels have been formed. Termites eat wood to get cellulose, a vital nutrient for healthy nutrition and living. What you may therefore confuse with a sawdust pile outside the nest may be frass or excrement.

Frass is in the pellet form and shaped uniformly, making it easy to distinguish between them and carpenter ant dump or debris.

Do powder post beetles leave sawdust?

Powder post beetles leave plenty of sawdust behind. The sawdust or flour-like substance you see results from wood eaten and digested. Powder post beetles also create a lot of small and round holes on the infested wood surface. When you break the wood, you will find plenty of crisscrossing tunnels filled with powder.

True powderpost beetles usually cause damage to wood younger than five years, while False powderpost beetles prefer wood older than ten years. 

How to get rid of bugs that leave sawdust piles

Prevent and treat infestations from insects that leave sawdust piles behind in your home by following these tips.

  1. Avoid storing firewood in your home or against your exterior walls. Only bring to the home firewood that you are likely to use soon
  2. The timber you buy must be kiln-dried to eliminate moisture that may promote wood-eating bug infestation
  3. Make sure you do not have wood with exit holes in your home
  4. Get rid of excess moisture in your home to keep bugs at bay. Use either a dehumidifier or an air conditioner, depending on the prevailing weather conditions
  5. Always organize your living space. An unorganized and messy environment, consisting of old wood, papers, newspapers, and books, offers bugs like wood wasps, termites, and carpenter bees suitable conditions for survival
  6. Create a barrier with natural repellents like peppermint oil for carpenter ants. This helps in keeping the bugs from wood materials at home

In conclusion, staying watchful is one of the best ways of dealing with wood-eating bugs and avoiding extensive destruction. When there is a need, hire a pest control expert to inspect your home and eliminate existing infestations. 


  • Maine Department Of Agriculture, Conservation And Forestry: Insects in wood


  • Felix Odi

    Hi, I’m an experienced author and content creator with over 18 years of experience as a publisher. Growing up in rural areas of Bristol, FL, I developed an interest in pest control, fish farming, and poultry keeping. Farming is a main activity in the area, and pests are always part of our major setbacks. I had to learn how to get rid of them with simple DIYs.