Area of Distribution: Dampwood termites typically infest damp and decaying timber. This species is commonly found in the Pacific Coast states, such as Montana, Idaho, Northern Nevada, Oregon, Northern California and Washington. Other but less damaging species are found in areas of Southwest USA and Southern Florida.
Identification of swarmers and soldiers: Dampwood termites are generally much larger than subterranean termites. The swarmers may be up to 1” in length, including their wings. The soldiers of dampwood termites have a large reddish-brown head and large multi-toothed mandibles (pincers). Dampwood termites contain various species, and are known to "swarm" to set up new nests during the year from January to October.
Identification of timber damage: Dampwood termites do not create shelter tubes as with subterranean termites. The appearance of timber damaged by dampwood termites can be varied but they always eat across the grain, consuming both spring and summerwood. While doing this, they make a series of chambers or galleries connected by tunnels whose walls are smooth as though they are finely 'sandpapered'.
There is no soil in the galleries, but if conditions are extremely damp, the faecal pellets will stick to the gallery walls and appear as soil. If conditions are dry, the faecal pellets accumulate at the bottom of the galleries or are expelled from the galleries in the same way as drywood termites do. dampwood termites often use their faecal pellets to seal off their galleries in order to maintain a high level of humidity in the gallery system.
Biology and Habits: Dampwood termites as the name suggests, will only infest wood with a high moisture content.
The colonies of dampwood termites are exclusively wood dwelling, with most species not requiring contact with the soil.
Dampwood termites are usually found to infest felled timber, dead trees and stumps. One species may be found in dead limbs of living standing trees.
Dampwood termites may infest buildings or structures where timber is in contact with the soil or with moisture say from plumbing leaks, ventilation or drainage deficiencies. Old gutters filled with leaves may also cause excessive moisture to accumulate in wall cavities making it attractive to infestation by dampwood termites.
Dampwood termites are not subterranean termites except for the desert dampwood. They do not require contact with damp ground with the exception of the desert dampwood.
Dampwood termites require wood with a high moisture content. Wood in contact with the ground or with a constant moisture source is most prone to attack. Dampwood termites attack the wood directly and usually do not burrow in the soil.
There is no worker caste in dampwood termites and the nymphs perform all the tasks typically done by workers.
Faecal pellets are about 1/32" long and colored according to the wood being eaten. The pellets are usually very similar in shape (elongate oval) to those of drywood termites but with the six sides flattened instead of being concave. If the wood is very damp, the pellets may be spherical or round.
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