Meet the dampwood termite

Sep 12, 2018, 13:57 PM by Fred Speer

Clark, your neighborly pest control expert, is on a mission to educate California homeowners on termites. Thus far we have covered the subterranean termite and its highly destructive relative, the Formosan termite, along with the drywood termite.  This week we will get acquainted with the dampwood termite.

Dampwood termites are common throughout California, but due to their high moisture requirements, they are most often found in cool, humid areas along the coast.

Dampwood termites typically infest decayed wood that remains moist either through contact with the soil or exposure to a water leak. Old trees, stumps and logs, utility poles, pilings, and fence posts are prime targets for these termites.

Gutters choked with leaves may also allow excessive moisture to accumulate in a home’s wall cavities, which can make it attractive to infestation by dampwood termites.

Dampwood termites create large, open galleries within the wood where they live and feed. Their presence can be an indicator of a moisture or ventilation problem, or wood decay in a structure.

Unlike colonies of structure-infesting drywood termites, dampwood colonies require higher humidity and regular contact with free water. Also, unlike subterranean termites, they do not forage in the soil.

The dampwood termite swarmer, or winged reproductive, can range up to 3/4 to 1 inch in length, including wings. The swarmer is light to dark brown with a yellowish or reddish tinge, with dark brown wings. Swarming occurs from January to October. Dampwood termites are significantly larger than drywood or subterranean termites.

When dampwood termite swarmers are visible, it’s a good indication there is an existing infestation.

Signs of a dampwood termite infestation

Finding dampwood termite infestations can be a little tricky, because there is little visual external evidence of their presence. These termites do not produce mud tubes or create visible open holes in wood. The reason dampwood termites make themselves hard to detect is that they need to stay immersed in moisture to prevent from drying out.

Dampwood termites will eat across the natural grain of wood. The chambers they excavate are connected by tunnels with walls that are as smooth as finely sanded wood. Dampwood termites will seal off each chamber with their own fecal pellets.

  • Tapping on wood that sounds hollow or feels soft is a possible sign of a dampwood termite infestation. Different wood will show a different appearance of damage. In sound wood, dampwood termites will eat the softer spring woods, just as subterranean termites will.
  • Fecal pellets may also be found in infested structures, and will be found stuck to the sides of the galleries, usually forming clumps of feces.
  • While looking for a dampwood termite infestation, it is important to be aware of sources of excess moisture and other conditions that may lead to wood decay.

It takes expert knowledge to know where to look for termite activity in a home, analyze the findings, and assess whether treatment is needed and what kind of treatment will help solve your termite problem.  

With years of experience dealing with this destructive adversary, Clark recommends a thorough termite inspection by one of Clark Pest Control's highly trained inspectors.

After the inspection, Clark will analyze the findings and assess whether treatment is needed, and what kind of treatment will work to eliminate the dampwood termite threat.

If you are having a problem with dampwood termites in your home, call or text California and northwestern Nevada’s trusted, friendly termite expert, Clark, at (800) WE NEED YOU (936-3339) or send an email at

Until next time, the pest management professionals at Clark Pest Control thank you for helping to keep unwanted pests out of your home.