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What are Dampwood Termites?

Although termites do have a positive impact in the natural world, specifically in how they contribute to the breakdown of forest debris and enhance soil quality, their presence is a problem for residential, commercial, and industrial spaces. The damage that they cause can vary by type of termite. As one of three major categories of termites, dampwood termites are distinct from drywood and subterranean termites in two ways: size and moisture requirements.

What are Dampwood Termites?

Dampwood termites require sustained high moisture content in wood. Although dampwood termites more often reside in forests not more populated areas, significant water damage or unresolved plumbing issues may result in the additional and unintended consequence of a dampwood termite problem. Around your property, they may also be present in fencing, trees, or utility poles.

Appearance: In color variation and colony organization, dampwood termites are similar to  drywood and subterranean termites. However, the flying members of the dampwood colony measure approximately half an inch or more and are consequently more visible due to their size. Dampwood termites are also identified based on their feces, because their waste differs from that of other termites because of its moisture content.

Environmental preferences: Dampwood termites prefer significant moisture accumulation in live or decaying wood. This moisture may be associated with the typical climate of a particular region, such as coastal areas like Florida or the Pacific Northwest where they are more frequently found. Alternatively, the preferred environment may be a product of ongoing water issues, including leaky roofing, compromised plumbing, or drainage issues. While they don’t generally require soil proximity like other termites, such as the subterranean termites, desert dampwood termites in dry southwestern climates in Arizona may exist on rotten wood found underground.

Preventing Dampwood Termites

Although dampwood termites may not be as likely to cause damage as the subterranean termites in many Northeastern areas, preventing a problem before it occurs is always the best approach. In addition to supporting the overall structural and environmental health of your home or business, many of these measures may help you identify issues before they lead to greater damage, whether as a result of bugs, other pests, or water within the home. Although it may seem unnecessary to contact a pest control provider, like Eliminate ‘Em, just to take care of attic and basement clutter and reinforcement, extermination and pest control specialists are more experienced in identifying and problem-solving issues related to dampwood termites or other pests, so they may see subtle clues that might otherwise be missed or mistaken for general wear and tear or old age. Here are three key services for dampwood termite prevention:

  • Attic Cleanout: With this service, professionals will help you uncover roof leaks, window weakness, or plumbing problems. What may seem like a minor concern now may turn into a major problem with your building integrity if left unaddressed. Even if potential water-related problems are not identified, attic restoration also helps to find and seal entry points that other pests and wildlife may utilize.
  • Exclusion Tactics: From top to bottom and everywhere in between, barriers to pest entry will be put in place. This service focuses on sealing cracks, looking for signs of rotting wood, plugging potential openings, installing guards around the foundation and roofing components to prevent pests and also extreme weather impacts, like water overflow. This service may also include prior pest clean up or insulation solutions, depending on the customized plan for your space.
  • Basement Cleanout: Especially in unfinished basements or underground storage spaces where individuals are less present, you may not know when new gaps or holes, growing water leaks, or compromised piping emerge until there is a change in water availability or pests become present. In addition to sanitizing and cleaning this space, we will address sealing needs within the space and make recommendations about additional structural or plumbing needs.

As a home or business owner, here are some additional strategies for prevention that you can take on your own:

  • Avoid locating firewood or wood materials, like mulch, near your building’s foundation.
  • Remove debris and decaying wood, like stumps or detached branches from your property.

Identifying a Dampwood Termite Problem

To identify a dampwood termite problem, evaluate both your home or office building and your landscape. If dampwood termites have taken over a tree rotting on your property, they may move to a particularly moist environment in your building, as the colony expands. Be vigilant in looking for the following danger signs to avoid long-term termite damage:

  • Swarmers or evidence of them: If you find a termite or a wing that you suspect might belong to one or to another undesirable pest, an exterminator technician will be able to identify its origin and the necessary steps for solving the associated problem. You may find actual termites or signs of them near light or wet wood.
  • Wood or tree damage: Although they are larger than other termites which may make them more visible, they use their fecal matter to cover up tunnels inside wood which makes that sign of their presence harder to detect than uncovered mud tubes in your yard. Evaluate wood for unusual softness, hollow sounds, or signs of its consumption. In trees, look for similar damage signs or changes in tree health. Particularly for larger trees within reach of the main building, decay and disease can endanger not just the tree but the safety of your home or business.
  • Evidence of feces: Sometimes, this matter blends in with the surrounding wood. However, there can be a build up of feces which results in clumps on the wood around infested spaces or dropped from it, if conditions have become dry.
  • Water damage: If water is constantly pooling around a wooden structure or there is continued leakage from ineffective roofing or other source, wood may be damaged and attract dampwood termites. Check for water issues regularly in addition to looking for other signs.

Unfortunately, if you find a dampwood termite anywhere on your property, an infestation has arrived, so contact Eliminate ‘Em for expedient action in addressing the problem.

Solving a Dampwood Termite Problem

There are standard approaches used in dealing with a termite problem, such as baiting, liquid barriers, and tent fumigation. However, each termite response plan must be customized to the specific type of termite, as well as the needs of your home or business. The Eliminate ‘Em team will work closely with you to help you understand how and why their proposed method best fits the people and spaces involved. Here are some possible solutions to your dampwood termite problem:

  • Moisture removal: Since dampwood termites require a high moisture content in the wood and are less likely to be inside a building, addressing their presence typically focuses on moisture removal. Thus, the approach that may be most effective is the resolution of water issues and damage, like those described in the prevention section. Proper ventilation within the building, such as basements and attics, and diverting moisture away from the foundation are also essential.
  • Chemical treatment: If the problem area is wood near soil, then a baiting or liquid barrier method may be used. However, treatments are usually applied directly to the wood thereby killing off the termites in residence.
  • Wood replacement: Significant damage to wooden elements may require their replacement with treated wood that repels moisture.
  • Fumigation: In the most severe cases, a tent may be used over the entire uninhabited home, and products dispersed in the tent will remove pests within approximately 3 days. Water and damp wood issues will still need to be resolved, or termites may return.

Although dampwood termites may not be the primary culprit for frequent termite damage, it is imperative to take prevention measures to ward off any termites or undesirable pests and remain particularly vigilant regarding the presence of water in and around the home. For support in proactive care or property evaluation, contact the a professional termite exterminator, like Eliminate ‘Em at (866) 906-9070 or via this form.