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Get Rid of Dampwood Termites with this Control Guide

Camille Landry posted this on Feb 20, 2017

dampwood termitesWhile drywood termites and subterranean termites are the main culprits responsible for the over 2 billion dollars of damage done to homes and buildings every year, there is a third type of termite that is also a fairly common contributor of wood-chomping destruction. That is the Dampwood termite. While dampwood termites are less of a problem than their cousins, they still pose a threat to homes, particularly to those living in the pacific coast states.


As their name suggests,, the dampwood termite tends to avoid areas that are overly dry and thrives on already-decaying wood or living organisms that are moisture heavy. This is also the reason why the dampwood termite is also called the “rotten wood” termite.


If you encounter this pest in your home, you have a moisture problem that should be addressed immediately to supplement in their removal. Here in this article we will provide you some interesting information about this wood-loving pest and what the best methods are to control and prevent them.

Identifying Dampwood Termites

Dampwood termites hard at workDampwood termites are the biggest termite in size of all the different termite species ranging from 1/3 inch to well over 1/2 inch in length. Because of their large size and ability to damage wood more rapidly than their cousins, the subterranean and drywood termites, they are considered an a serious pest and the reason for significant economic damage to homes and businesses in Pacific coast states.


Much like the subterranean and drywood termites, the dampwood termite also lives in colonies where the inhabitants in the colony have three distinct classes or castes (aside from the queen). Those are:


  • Reproductives – A winged dampwood termite that is responsible for breeding more dampwood termites every season. They leave the colony and fly around to swarm and mate to increase the population and create new colonies.

  • Soldiers – The largest of the classes in size, this class can reach up to 1 inch in length and is the dampwood termite whose main objective is to defef the tunnels and colony. They are dark red in color on their back and beige colored on the stomach and possess large heads and pinchers that take up about 1/3 of their body.

  • Nymphs – Are also known the worker dampwood termites. Although these are the smallest of the dampwood termites (about ½ inch), the cream colored nymphs do the majority of the work tunneling.


There are three main species of Dampwood termites; the Nevada Dampwood Termite, the Pacific Dampwood Termite and the Florida Dampwood Termite. The Nevada Dampwood Termite resides mainly in the mountain basins found in Nevada, Idaho and Montana. The Pacific Dampwood termite is prominently in Northern California up through Oregon and some parts of Washington The Nevada Dampwood termite lives and behaves similar to that of the Pacific Dampwood termite.


Florida dampwood termites are found primarily in Florida. They are a common pest of building structures in most southeastern Florida counties, and in the Florida Keys. This species prefers solid, damp logs near ocean water, and may also inhabit logs beneath the soil, though they do not require contact with the soil to survive.


Dampwood Termite Behavior


dampwood termites on the moveDampwood termites need a constant source of water or need to live close to a water source to survive. Very rarely to dampwood termites survive or even travel to places of high humidity if there is no access to water.  To fulfill their requirement of high amounts of moisture, humidity and access to water, they mainly nest in trees, damp logs and any type of wood with decay. Indoors they can be found building nests in rotting planks of an old deck, around leaky showers and tubs, leaky roof eaves, and other pieces of construction which are not ventilated well.


There is no surprise that the dampwood termite prefers to live in Pacific Northwest area of the country.  The high amounts of rain the area receives actually makes it the perfect place to live for the dampwood termite. Different species of the dampwood termite have also been sited in the Southwestern part of the U.S. where it is warm and humid. Unlike drywood termites, the dampwood termite can be a useful insect in the ecosystem when living in the right habitat.


When trees or shrubs naturally die and start to decay the dampwood termites can speed up the process and deposit nutrients into the soil at a quicker pace. Unfortunately, the dampwood termite do not tend to stay in forests and decaying trees as they are drawn to any location which provides them plenty of moisture to enjoy.  Dampwood termites are even known to invade wet wood or piles of soil close to homes or make nests in damp attics and foundations


How To Detect Signs of a Dampwood Termite Infestation

Due to their affinity for moist areas, dampwood termites may be difficult to find unless you look for areas in your home that have moisture or a leak. Also keep in mind that when searching for damaged wood as evidence that dampwood termites are present,  these particular termites will eat opposite the grain of the wood. You may need chip off the outer portion of a tree or a piece of wood to discover these pests.


What to look for:


1. Piles of shed wings scattered about.

2. Ejected wood pellets that have accumulated.

3. Wood galleries that appear velvety and smooth.

4. Piles of fecal pellets outside wood galleries which are elongated, similar to the frass that drywood termites excrete but round on the ends and lacking a flattened surface.


Control Options for Dampwood Termites


Dampwood Termite treatment is very similar to the method of treating drywood termites when they are nesting in wood that are not in contact with the ground. When they are in contact with the ground than treatment is similar to the treatment methods we have laid for for subterranean termites.


However the most important thing to do when eliminating or preventing dampwood termites from feasting on your home is to get rid of the source of moisture. Whether you have damp wood from a plumbing leak or any other wet area in your home where water has been leaking and making the area moist, that needs to be addressed immediately and the replacements of wood and repairs must be made.


Bora Care, as we recommended for drywood termites, is great to use as a wood treatment get rid of dampwood termite infestations. There are also termite sprays and dusts found on our website that you can use that will also work well to significantly reduce or wipe out the dampwood termite colony. The most crucial part of a control program for dampwood termites which cannot be emphasized enough is that all moisture sources have to eliminated and only then should any type of chemical treatment be attempted.


By following the steps we laid out and equipping yourself with the products we have recommended, you will be able to exterminate your own home and get rid of dampwood termites in no time!




Florida Dampwood Termites - UF Entomology and Nematology



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