insect droppings?

I work with a girl who has a screened-in deck. Her clapboard siding where the deck meets the house is Cedar, and she has a dusty material accumulating at the base of her siding on the floor of the screened-in deck. She sweeps it away, and by the next day, it's back! She wasn't sure of it's composition, so she brought a sample in to work for me to examine. To the naked eye, it looks like dark brown sawdust, with grains not much larger than ground black pepper. Under a 30x microscope, I can see much of the material is insect parts... legs, heads, and other ugly stuff. There were also some yellow translucent balls of something that looks like Amber, some tiny seeds, and something that might be insect droppings or 'frass'. I was leaning towards it's origin being powder beetles, but I believe their mess would not consist of so many insect parts. I am told there is no evidence of other bugs, no spider webs or anything unusual. Any thoughts as to what might be the source of this rapid accumulation of insect carnage?
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I think it's interesting thta you identified the debris microscopically, and now where is it coming from. I have a biology degree, though not entomology, so I won't be of much help here. However, if the question is how it got there, I would think, based on my understanding of the layout and structure, that whatever infestation she had or has is likely underneath the siding, and and chitin and other materials continue crumbling out. Has she tries hitting the clapboard with a fist (or whatever) to check for this? I suspect the amber might actually be that, considering the Cedar. I looked for a suitable biology site for you, but haven't seen one yet. I'm curious what others will say about your situation.
Les
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Not trying to scare ya, but have you considered termites? I would be calling a pest control company ASAP and get some one to inspect the home. If the home was recently purchased, with in a year, call the folks that did the inspection if termites it will be their dime to fix. At least that is how it works where I live.
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I have a similar problem. Brown dust drops from my ceiling in June and July through the tongue and groves.
I had two bug people into look at it. One said it was powderpost beetle and recommended a very extensive treatment. The second said it didn't even resemble ppb. I forget what he said it was (it was 5 years ago) but he said insects were eating rotten wood in my roof from when the roof leaked years ago. The rotten wood has no strength, so its being eaten didn't matter, and the bugs wouldn't eat sound wood. He recommended I ignore it, as treatment wouldn't last, and wasn't necessary.
I hope he was right; the roof hasn't collapsed yet.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com says... :) I work with a girl who has a screened-in deck. Her clapboard siding :) where the deck meets the house is Cedar, and she has a dusty material :) accumulating at the base of her siding on the floor of the screened-in :) deck. She sweeps it away, and by the next day, it's back! She wasn't :) sure of it's composition, so she brought a sample in to work for me to :) examine. To the naked eye, it looks like dark brown sawdust, with :) grains not much larger than ground black pepper. Under a 30x :) microscope, I can see much of the material is insect parts... legs, :) heads, and other ugly stuff. There were also some yellow translucent :) balls of something that looks like Amber, some tiny seeds, and :) something that might be insect droppings or 'frass'. I was leaning :) towards it's origin being powder beetles, but I believe their mess :) would not consist of so many insect parts. I am told there is no :) evidence of other bugs, no spider webs or anything unusual. :) Any thoughts as to what might be the source of this rapid accumulation :) of insect carnage? :) :) There are a number of ants they may be. If they are carpenter ants, she need not be pushed into a high priced treatment..they are a nuisance.
--
Lar

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Take a sample to the county agricultural agent.

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