I had one of those moments that define homeownership recently: Took a book off the shelf (a built-in bookshelf in our 1915 home) and saw a little pile of what looked like chewed up wood behind it.
“I’ll get the vacuum,” my husband said, thereby earning himself points for helpfulness, but not for long-term thinking. We clearly had pests at work. But without being able to show an expert what the pest had left behind — the “frass,” in industry lingo — there would have been no way to determine whether the pests were termites (our first assumption) or something else.
The inspector himself was a bit mystified, but took a sample back to his office to show everyone else. I picture them all there, huddled around, with no greater earthly fascination than our little pile of frass. The conclusion: carpenter ants.
So, put your vacuum away for now, and study up on likely home pests, by going to this free article on Nolo’s website, drawn from Essential Guide for First-Time Homeowners, by Ilona Bray and Alayna Schroeder: “Common Home Pests.”