What are these mysterious black specks?
May 2, 2010 11:45 AM   Subscribe

What are these alien black specks all over my desk?

There are thousands of them. They appear as fast as I can vacuum them up.

Not very good picture

They look a lot like ground pepper - black and pale brown tiny spherical specks. They are odorless, and hard. They don't move, but scatter randomly across my desk. They look more like poppy seeds than anything relating to insects or animals.

Context: this is a small study off my kitchen. It is the only place they appear in the house. There is a window left ajar with a flyscreen on it near the desk, so they could have blown in from outside.

I have no clue where they come from or what they are. Any ideas?
posted by Conductor71 to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Pollen? Spores? Insect larvae?
posted by dfriedman at 11:46 AM on May 2, 2010

Fly Shit?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 11:52 AM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: I haven't seen any flies recently, at least not enough to create that much fly-crap.

They look too plant-like to be larvae, I think.

Pollen or spores is the most likely explanation. I've never seen a plant create such distinctive spores though, and weird they would all end up on my desk.
posted by Conductor71 at 12:01 PM on May 2, 2010

Best answer: Termite frass, from the ceiling above you.
Look for a tiny hole up there (and I mean tiny).
posted by the Real Dan at 12:04 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Weird! Can't tell much from the picture... but they must be coming from the window (esp because, as you said, they don't move). What's outside? How fast is "as fast as [you] can vacuum them up?

Step 1: Close the window for a while - see if they still appear.
posted by mondaygreens at 12:06 PM on May 2, 2010

Response by poster: Yup, the Real Dan, it's termites. Good call. There's a tiny group of holes right above the desk.

Fascinating. And gross.
posted by Conductor71 at 12:22 PM on May 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Wow, that is extremely bad news. Condolences.
posted by idiopath at 12:24 PM on May 2, 2010

It's not that bad, really; you live in California, and almost every building has some degree of drywood termite infestation. You can actually get a poison injector that has a needle-tip that gets jabbed right into the tiny holes you found; just because you have some termite feces on your desk doesn't mean you need to get your house completely tented.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:59 PM on May 2, 2010

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