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Pacific Dampwood Termites


Zootermopsis angusticollis


The Pacific dampwood termite colony consists of three castes: reproductives, soldiers and nymphs. Winged reproductive, or alates, are almost one-inch long and their color ranges from yellowish-brown to cinnamon-brown. Soldiers display flattened heads with brown or yellowish-brown coloration, while their jaws are black or dark brown. Nymphs are cream colored. Pacific dampwood termites are also known as rottenwood termites due to their preference for very moist wood.


Dampwood termites do not require contact with soil to survive. However, these termites do need access to wood with a high moisture content; thus, wood-to-ground contact in a home’s construction often leads to dampwood termite infestations. Other than homes, Pacific dampwood termites are found under the bark of fallen coniferous trees - those that have not lain on the ground, with very loose bark. Poles, pilings, bridge timbers and other structures built over or near water may also be infested. In urban areas, water used for irrigating lawns and shrubs is likely to keep wood in contact with the soil damp enough for infestations.


Swarms tend to occur on warm, humid evenings during the late summer or early fall, often appearing after early rains. These swarms are smaller than those of other termite species, as Pacific dampwood termite colonies only foster up to about 4,000 members. After mating, male and female alate pairs usually begin the new colony in sound wood such as recently cut logs and the living parts of otherwise dead trees.


The most obvious signs of a Pacific dampwood termite infestation are the presence of alates and their discarded wings.


The Pacific dampwood termite is found along the coastal forests of California, Oregon and Washington and is generally regarded as one of the most common and most destructive dampwood termites in the United States.


Homeowners should contact their pest management professional (PMP) and request an inspection and control plan if they suspect they are having a Pacific dampwood termite problem. Sometimes control may involve the removal and replacement of the damp, damaged wood and eliminating any sources of moisture that keep the wood wet. However, if the dampwood termite problem cannot be fixed in this manner, use of termite insecticides may be required.


How do you know if you have termites?

Learn the signs to look for to determine if you might have a termite infestation.

Why should you be worried?

Termites cost Americans more than $5 billion in damage each year and most insurance plans don’t cover the damage.

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