Dampwood Termites

( Family Termopsidae )

 

Characteristics

SIZE: When it comes to sheer size, dampwood termites are the largest termites in North America. In contrast, their colony sizes are among the smallest. Kings and queens measure between one-half to five-eighths of an inch in length. Nymphs can also grow to be five-eighths of an inch long, while soldiers can grow up to three-fourths of an inch in length.

COLOR: Dampwood termites are generally brown in color, but can range from dark to light, and can even be reddish, especially towards their abdomens. Nymphs are cream-colored.

BEHAVIOR: This species needs regular contact with water and a high humidity to survive. This makes them very different from their drywoodcousins.

Dampwood termites do not create shelter tubes, as subterranean termites do, and can live completely within the wood that they are eating. These termites plug openings into the wood they are infesting with fecal pellets to preserve humidity, and their cryptic behavior can keep them from being discovered for years.

Specialized organisms within their intestines help them digest wood. They usually infest felled timber, dead trees and stumps and then feast on the contents.

Habitats

These termites typically infest damp and decaying timber, as their name implies. Therefore, they are found mostly in damper places like in Western states, such as California, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Washington. Other less-damaging species are found in the Southwest area of the United States and in Florida.

Dampwood termites can infest structures where high moisture levels exist from plumbing leaks, ventilation deficiencies or from drainage problems. Old gutters filled with leaves can also cause excessive moisture to accumulate in wall cavities, creating an attractive environment for these humidity-loving insects.

Tips for Control

If you find dampwood termites in your home:

  • Your first priority should be to address moisture issues. When the colony’s source of water is removed, most will not survive.

  • Control can also be achieved by making structural changes, such as replacing damp, infested wood.

  • Where removing moisture and wood is not an option, contact Terminix® to assist you with providing control of dampwood termites.

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