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The bathtub of mystery

Here’s a poser for you: mysterious specks of something are appearing in the bathroom. They fall from somewhere above the bath, into the bath, around the side of the bath, and onto the window ledge up above the bath. I don’t know what they are. I don’t know where they come from. There is no obvious source for them. There’s been a few of these things in the past, but in the last week or two there’s been heaps.

Here’s what they look like in and around the bath:
Specks in the bath

And here’s a close-up taken on the window ledge:
Specks in the bath

Sometimes the window is open, sometimes it’s shut. They arrive anyway. In fact I’ve found some of them on the top of the window ledge. Above which, there is only the ceiling.

One more clue: one day last week a worm had also fallen from an unknown location into the bath.

I’m guessing something, somewhere, is getting inadequately cleaned… but what? Any ideas, anybody?

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

29 replies on “The bathtub of mystery”

My suggestion WOULD HAVE BEEN that something is slowly making a main course of your window frames, etc. or that daddy long-legs spiders are creating a mess, but when you said the dirt appeared on top of the window ledge, you lost me there. I’d be checking out the walls and window frames though!

Was the worm definitely a worm or could it have been some type of larvae? perhaps borer?
I imagine it is from some living things inside your ceiling, eating the house and leaving dust and droppings to fall about.

I assume the specs aren’t obviously dirt, they’re more spec-like (more dots than particles). If it was an earthworm, and you’re seeing dirt… perhaps a bird’s nest? Is there a large enough hole in the ceiling for a worm to fall through – or did it come another way? The photo suggests that certain points are getting a higher hit rate than others – if you track them upwards (say, with a plum bob) does that give any further hints? I think the poop suggestion might be viable; where could all that poop be coming from – a carcas in the roofspace?

I would guess that if it happens regardless if the window is open or not, it must be coming from inside the house (ooh Horror movie line of “get out of the house!” should come after that).
Might be a good idea to report it to the land lord or RE agent now and wait the normal 3 weeks for someone to turn up.

I’ll second Wilson and go for the termite option.

If you have lots of wee ants about that is (apparently) a good indication of termite activity. According to our termite dude ants love to feast on the termite larvae.

I also say it’s termites. It looks very familiar to what my parents had in their place. I believe what you’re seeing is actually crumbs of wood and dirt that has been displaced by the little munchers.

I agree with the guys who suggest termites. It could be another type of pest, but definitely something along those lines. Could also be from some sort of shifting in the materials of the roof. We had our roof replaced earlier this year and had a very similar problem all over the house for yonks.

Actually, Andrew makes a good point. If there had been termites there in the past and there is some affected wood up there, a critter of some sort could be causing the rain of grit. By the way, Rain of Grit starring Punch Rockhard sounds like a good crime movie.

Any which way, you should call your landlord quick and try and get it looked at as soon as possible.

All very interesting, everyone, thank you for the feedback. I’ll investigate further and see if I can get the landlord and/or their maintenance people to take a look. In any event, makes me glad I just rent the house, don’t own it!

I got the same thing happening in my bathroom and laundry, really hope it’s not termites. However, we had the roof replaced 3 weeks ago and it started after
that. It is confusing though because there aren’t any
noticable holes in the ceiling….

I suppose now is a good time to share this little story.

I had come down from Northern California and was staying at my parents’ house in Southern California. About 4am (I later learned) there was a terrific BOOM and flash of light. Let me tell you, it scared the crap out of me! I still have etched in my mind an image of my hand and foot flying up in a protective reflex, with a blue light illuminating the room. Exhausted as I was, I immediately went back to sleep.

My father, on the other hand, thought it was a Sep. 11 style attack on the local newspaper, and went out on his bicycle to investigate.

It turned out that a house had been tented for termite extermination. Something happened with a gas line and the poisonous gasses they used to kill the termites, and it exploded. That house was destroyed — and I do mean DESTROYED — and the surrounding houses suffered extensive damage. The house itself looked like the end of an action movie, and the neighbors were all moved on their foundations.

But don’t worry, I’m sure that won’t happen to you!


Way too damned easy…………ant mess……You have ants, either in the
ceiling or a crack in the wall.
Ants are very tidy and apparently have absolutely no compassion for when one
of them dies they
often simply chuck the carcass of poor old nan or pop ant out with all the
other rubbish.

That much muck is usually the sign of a fairly significant nest….you have
to find and destroy the
nest or close up the gaps….but be warned if you don’t get rid of the nest
they will simply find somewhere
else to chuck all their crap.

How do I know this I here you ask…..happens up here in the Qld bush all the time.

BTW the Pest controller tells me its definitely not termites, but your small garden variety brown/black ant

When it is termites you see lots of evidence of sawdust from the wood they are destroying

Happy hunting

>> It turned out that a house had been tented for termite extermination… it exploded. That house was destroyed – and I do mean DESTROYED

Sounds like they definitely got rid of the termites at least… :\

Well I have an idea… but i dunno how your bathrooms are set up downunder.

Here most bathrooms have vents to suck up the moisture from the bathroom. Now usually the vents are vented into the attic space or the roof space. Depending on if there is outside access to the roof there could be a lot of dust collecting, or birds creating a nest causing the dust to drop that they are stirring up and maybe dropping worms in there? Or maybe the worms are getting in the cieling and making…worm nests? and that is coming in from you cieling fan? or air exchange?

I had a similar problem in my bathroom (in Hughesdale, Victoria). Turned out they were ant parts chucked from the nest. The ants moved on and it isn’t happening any longer.

yep, i was going to say ants or termites, too. we have the same thing through our house .. also rented, thankfully.

wow. i love ron’s story. pity the poor people who owned the house though. poor buggers.

My guess is tha the “worm” might have been a Portugese milipede”. They are nasty tasting, segmented black things with lots of little legs that curl into a circle when you touch them. Nothing here likes to eat them because they taste awful, consequently they are an environental pest (both inside and out).

The mystery blobs certainly look like some type of insect poop to me.

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