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What does that sawdust mean at my housing complex

Abell Pest Control

Owners of housing and apartment developments as well as property managers have to be on the lookout for any potential pests, not just because they may make tenants and residents uncomfortable, but because they can cause serious damage as well. An added difficulty is that, unlike a home, you don't have complete control of what people bring into the dwellings, which can lead to infestations.

When an infestation occurs, commercial pest management can come in and eliminate the issue because they're practiced at working on such properties. Pest control services can work to get rid of the current infestation as well as put measures in place to prevent future problems. Although flies, cockroaches and rodents can cause significant discomfort in owners and property managers, one of the scariest signs of a pest can be sawdust.

Luckily, sawdust doesn't always mean termites or structural weakness. It's important to look for the warning sign so you know what creatures you're dealing with.

Carpenter bee

To the naked eye, a carpenter bee may look like a bumble bee, but carpenters are thinner and have a black abdomen or rear. Male carpenter bees are unable to sting and females rarely do unless in danger.

If you spot sawdust on the exterior steps to a home or below the eaves, carpenter bees may be the culprits. They're particularly attracted to unpainted, untreated or weathered wood on the exterior or near the exterior of a home. They dig circular tunnels into wood, but don't eat the wood as termites do. In large enough numbers and over enough time, carpenter bees can cause structural weakness.

Carpenter ant

Like carpenter bees, carpenter ants don't eat the wood, but they do tunnel into it. Roughly 1/4 inch in size, these large black or red ants would likely look like a large ant to the untrained eye. When they tunnel, they create very smooth tracks and their sawdust frequently has bits of insect in it. Sometimes, spotting a carpenter ant on your property isn't a cause for concern, as it may be foraging from a nearby nest rather than building its own.


Potentially the most destructive of the three, termites cause significant amounts of damage across North America each year, costing billions of dollars according the Environmental Protection Agency. If you're afraid that the sawdust you've spotted is the result of termites, check for tubes with white insects in them, hollow damaged wood and swarms.

It can be hard to find the source of an infestation, so if you spot sawdust around your property, don't hesitate to call pest control services.

About the author:

Abell Pest Control is a family owned Canadian company dedicated to providing effective, professional and courteous service in pest management. Abell is proud to announce its 90th year of providing quality pest control services to North America. Started in 1924 with one office, Abell now employs several hundred people with branch offices across Canada and the United States.

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