Dampwood termites are one of the major classifications of termites that feed on wood. As their name implies, dampwood termites feed on damp and decaying wood as this is easy to digest and utilize. They also benefit from the fungi present in decaying wood which provide a good source of nitrogen for their reproduction and survival.
Dampwood termites are usually abundant along the Pacific Coast and are distributed in Montana, Idaho, Northern California, Northern Nevada, Washington and Oregon. A less damaging species of dampwood termites is also located in Southwest United States and in certain parts of Southern Florida.
Dampwood termites live in a social community composed of reproductives, soldiers and workers. A termite life cycle involves the following stages: egg, nymph and adult. Unlike other insects, termites do not have a pupal stage in its development.
The eggs and nymphs look the same for all types of termites. It is during the adult stage that one can notice characteristics distinct from the other types of termites. Adult dampwood termites are usually larger (more than half inch) than the other types of termites.
Swarmers or alates are male and female reproductives that have acquired wings to enable them to propagate and create new colonies. These are about 1 inch in length. The soldier dampwood termites are also larger than other types of soldier termites with huge reddish-brown heads and mandibles.
Dampwood termites do not create mud tubes when they travel across the surface of the ground in search for food. Dampwood termites, unlike subterranean termites, do not require constant contact with soil to maintain adequate moisture levels.
Assessing the damage caused by dampwood termites is difficult during the early stage of infestation. These termites hide behind the wood they are feeding on. Homeowners may only notice the activities of these termites when a surface of damaged wood begins to show.
Dampwood termites chew on wood across its grain. They consume both summer and spring wood. The chew first the interior of the wood and then create a series of chambers that are connected to each other by tunnels. The walls of these tunnels are very smooth like sandpapered wood.
Since dampwood termites feed on wood that is damp, it is best to monitor wooden structures that have high moisture content. Wood that is also in contact with soil or found near a water source such as a leaking faucet is highly susceptible to termite infestation. As they feed on wood, dampwood termites leave fecal materials which appear as pellets that are powdery and scattered near the wooden structure such as doors, wooden furniture and flooring. These are signs to look for when suspecting dampwood termite infestation.
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