As their name implies, Dampwood Termites locate their colonies in damp, sometimes decaying wood. They are common throughout the Pacific Coastal States.
There are two castes in a Dampwood Termite colony, the Swarmer and the Soldier. The Swarmer is usually around 1” long including wings, they have a light brown body and they have two pairs of wings which are the same size. The Dampwood Termite soldiers are up to 3/4” long, they have a whitish to light brown body, a large rectangular head and large mandibles with teeth.
Dampwood Termites eat wood across the grain, consuming both spring and summer wood. In doing so, they make a series of chambers connected by tunnels whose walls are smooth. There is no soil in the galleries, but if the conditions are extremely damp, the fecal pellets will stick to the chamber walls. Dampwood Termites also use their fecal pellets to seal off galleries or tunnels.
Dampwood Termites will pair up during their swarming season and both swarmers then excavate a chamber and seal it behind them. The queen lays an average of 12 eggs in the first batch and the second batch is not laid until the next spring. Dampwood Termite colony size can vary greatly, some with as many as 4,000 termites. There is no worker caste in Dampwood Termite colonies, instead, the immature termites perform all the tasks typically done by workers.
Dampwood Termites are not subterranean, they do not require contact with damp ground, but they do require wood with a high moisture content. Wood in contact with the ground or with a constant moisture source is the most susceptible to attack. Dampwood Termites attack directly and usually don’t burrow through the soil.
Dampwood Termites are typically found in logs, stumps and old standing dead trees. From these places they move into structures, especially where wood is in contact with the ground or there is a constant moisture supply such as leaky pipes.
The first step in control of Dampwood Termites is to eliminate the moisture source or any wood-to-ground contact. Next, the damaged wood should be replaced and then the remaining wood and surrounding area should be treated with an appropriate pesticide by a trained and licensed pest control operator.