Please Tell Me These Are Not Termites (I Don’t Want to Hear Carpenter Ants, Either)
November 17, 2008 11:35 AM   Subscribe

Small pile of hundreds of insect/larvae carcasses found in home – should we be concerned? Have you ever encountered such a thing?

A few weeks ago, we discovered a small pile (a couple of inches high, inch or two in diameter) of teensy, tiny little empty larvae (??) shells. The insect shells are so small that we couldn’t manage to photograph them with any amount of clarity – you could probably fit about 100-150 of them on a penny, for perspective. In fact, they were so small, that at first we thought they were a bit of insulation or something—only upon really, really close inspection were we able to discern the small, curled, dried-up, segmented bodies (or exoskeletons). This pile appeared in the corner of our kitchen, under our baseboard heat registers.

I’ve called a few exterminators, but they tell me that they can’t identify a bug from its dried-up shell.

My question is: Has anyone ever encountered this phenomenon in their apartment or home?

Some background:
- We live in Massachusetts.
- Our house is about 50 years old, not noticeably damp, with no apparent wood damage. The foundation is very visible, and we see no termite “tunnels” up the foundation.
- We’ve lived in this house for only 1 year, so we don’t have any idea if this has happened before.
- Although I vacuum the floors once weekly, it’s possible that this little pile has been accumulating for some time. Although they are tiny and light, just sticking the vacuum hose under the heat register didn’t get rid of them all – I had to manually sweep them all out.
posted by dreamphone to Home & Garden (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
They could be springtails ( I also live in Massachusetts and got swamped with them this spring. They'd climb up the heating registers, drop off, and die, and you'd get little piles of them.

Our house is brand new and not particularly damp either.

Have you checked the basement? That's where they clustered for us -- both in piles and as a thin layer across the floor.

There was nothing to do about them, fwiw. We called Orkin and they sprayed and the little punks just started showing up again.
posted by bitterpants at 11:53 AM on November 17, 2008

I saw this once when I was living in sketchy 'dig housing' - they had bug-bombed prior to letting us archaeologists stay, but didn't sweep up. I'm wondering if it could be anything that lived and then died, was swept up and got caught there.
posted by cobaltnine at 12:35 PM on November 17, 2008

So as to not confuse the picture, I didn't mention that this past spring, for about 7-10 days running, I found a little pile of tiny, live insects that were black and sort of bumbling around, hopping a little. This little colony was very near the place where we've now found the carcasses (although, each time I found the bugs, I'd gather them in a dustpan and deposit them outside). The description, abundance, and activity is very much like what I'm finding online about the springtail. Thanks so much!
posted by dreamphone at 1:03 PM on November 17, 2008

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