The valley elderberry longhorn beetle (VELB), Desmocerus californicus dimorphus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae), is a federally threatened subspecies endemic to the Central Valley of California. The VELB range partially overlaps with that of its morphologically similar sister taxon, the California elderberry longhorn beetle (CELB), Desmocerus californicus californicus (Coleoptera: Cerambycidae). Current surveying methods are limited to visual identification of larval exit holes in the VELB/CELB host plant, elderberry (Sambucus spp.), into which larvae bore and excavate feeding galleries. Unbiased genetic approaches could provide a much-needed complementary approach that has more precision than relying on visual inspection of exit holes. In this study we developed a DNA sequencing-based method for indirect detection of VELB/CELB from frass (insect fecal matter), which can be easily and non-invasively collected from exit holes. Frass samples were collected from 37 locations and the 12S and 16S mitochondrial genes were partially sequenced using nested PCR amplification. Three frass-derived sequences showed 100% sequence identity to VELB/CELB barcode references from museum specimens sequenced for this study. Database queries of frass-derived sequences also revealed high similarity to common occupants of old VELB feeding galleries, including earwigs, flies, and other beetles. Overall, this non-invasive approach is a first step towards a genetic assay that could augment existing VELB monitoring and accurately discriminate between VELB, CELB, and other insects. Furthermore, a phylogenetic analysis of 12S and 16S data from museum specimens revealed evidence for the existence of a previously unrecognized, genetically distinct CELB subpopulation in southern California.