What the Helen of Troy is This?

by Prince Of Petworth July 8, 2011 at 11:00 am 21 Comments

“Dear PoPville,

I woke up this morning to see what’s in the attached pictures. It looks like sawdust around the base of the tree and also some just inside the retaining wall of my front yard.

Do you think any of your readers may have an idea of what’s going on?”

Uh – oh, termites? Renegade mulcher? Anyone know for sure?

  • Eric

    Well, I’m no expert, but termites only eat dead wood, so unless the tree is dead, i dont think so. Is it ants? Could be ants at the base of the tree. Or just someone screwing with you. I suggest poking at the powder to see what happens.

  • Ben

    No termites in this part of the world produce quantities like that so quickly. It must have been dumped by someone for some reason. How odd.

  • Anonymous

    and there’s none on the sidewalk… so it seems pretty intentional. very weird.

  • Kat

    Carpenter bees do something like that, but it normally takes them quite a while to accumulate piles like that.

  • Anonomi

    Looks like sand.

  • ro

    Some people use sawdust as a mulch to draw in moisture or to loosen up the soil. Assuming this appeared overnight, someone obviously spread it there intentionally as no type of insect would be capable of boring that much wood in such a short period of time.

  • That can’t have been an animal. Fairly sure that was done by either the city or maybe Casey Trees. it is a street tree after all.

  • Mike

    I guarantee you that someone is doing some sanding using an electric sander. Looks like they emptied the bag of sawdust around the tree and a bare spot in their yard.
    Termites build mounds…this is not done by an insect at all.
    It’s definitely from an electric sander.

  • andy

    you’ve just been sawdust-bombed. it’s the latest craze from DIY cabinetmakers jealous of their knitter wives.

    • Anonymous

      +1 million

  • AC

    I have been finding same thing in my garden albeit in smaller quantities. My garden is fully closed up by fence so unlikely the treat of a funny person …

  • Papers Please

    It’s to keep the smoke monster away.

    • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    SO weird! I found a pile of what appears to be the same stuff on my lawn a few weeks ago! Right in the middle of my little grass patch. No trees around, no sawdust anywhere else nearby. Bizarre.

  • BF

    Some kind of fungus?

  • onanon

    Who barfed?

  • Eric

    Its phase 1 of the space squids evil plan.

  • anon. gardener


    I would guess some kind of insect. Look around, maybe you can find the holes, figure out what it is, and how to kill it before it kills the tree.

  • anon. gardener

    in fact, if you go to http://www.emeraldashborer.info/homeownerinfo.cfm and look at the pdf about emerald ash borers and native bugs, there’s a picture of a tree surrounded by sawdust. kinda similar. not exactly the same, but close.

  • Sully

    It’s voodoo powder.

  • sigh

    locusts borers. i have experience with these asshole insects.

    spread some 3x fertilizer around the tree and wherever you see the sawdust.


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