Dampwood Termites

Facts, Identification & Control

Latin Name

Zootermopsis spp. and Neotermes spp.


What do dampwood termites look like?

Dampwood Termite Illustration

Dampwood termites are much larger then the subterranean termites that are common across the country. Note: there are several species of dampwood termites in the United States.

  • Swarmers: The swarmers (winged termites) can be 25 mm long, including their wings.
  • Soldiers: The soldiers can be as large as 20 mm.
  • Immature: The immature termites can be as much as 20 mm long. The immature termites do the work in the colony.


  • They have a large head with mandibles (pincers) on the front.

How Did I Get Dampwood Termites?

Wood that is water-damaged or rests directly on the ground is very likely to attract dampwood termites and some of the more likely things that dampwood termites are drawn to include stumps, lumber, fallen logs and tree branches that are left in direct contact with the ground. In addition, dampwood termites may also infest rarely seen areas affected by roof leaks or cracked drainpipes.

How Serious Are Dampwood Termites?

Dampwood termites often weaken homes by hollowing out support beams. This can lead to costly repairs, causing a great deal of frustration. The silent and secretive nature of these pests makes dampwood termite activity difficult to recognize until it becomes severe.

To remain hidden, dampwood termites do not construct mud tubes, rather they cover up their entry holes with their own feces. Since wood infested by dampwood termites has very high moisture content, the wood they infest can also be damaged by fungus. As one might expect, a dampwood termite infestation often indicates wood decay, as well as leaks that create excessive moisture in the home.

How Do I Get Rid of Dampwood Termites?

What Orkin Does

Continuous Treatment Plans
With Orkin, you receive the most dependable termite control from an industry leader. Our Continuous Protection Plans use scientifically proven treatments designed for your home’s construction type, and every one of those treatments is backed by a money-back guarantee. We’ve been around for more than 100 years, so you can be confident we’ll be here when you need us.

Customized treatment
Based on the layout of your home and the degree of termite infestation, Orkin will create a treatment plan tailored for your home.

Read more about Orkin termite treatment plans.


Signs of Dampwood Termite Infestation

Dampwood termites do not usually have contact with the soil. They do not make tunnels like the subterranean termites.

Wood that dampwood termites have damaged usually looks clean and smooth inside. They often eat across the grain, especially in wood that is decayed.

Read more about termite damage.

The dampwood termites sometimes use their fecal pellets to seal the galleries where they live from the outside air. If the wood is fairly dry, the fecal pellets may fall to the bottom of the gallery. If the wood is very damp, the fecal pellets may stick to the sides of the termite galleries.

Large winged swarmers, winged males and females, are produced for the purpose of mating and starting new colonies.  These may be confused with winged ants, but the termites have straight antennae, four pairs of equal length wings and a straight sided body.

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Where do they live?
Dampwood termites get their name from the damp, sometimes decaying, wood that they use to locate their colonies. Dampwood termites do not typically nest in the soil. They will invade wood that is on the ground, especially if it is decaying. 

Distribution range
Dampwood termites are common along the Pacific coast. They are considered an economic pest. There are also dampwood termites in the Southwest desert and in southern Florida.

Reproduction & Life Cycle

A pair of winged swarmers starts a colony of dampwood termites. They find a suitable piece of wood and make a chamber in it. They produce a few eggs the first year. Colonies are usually small, but in ideal conditions dampwood termite colonies can become large. There are no dampwood termite workers.

Prevention Tips

Remove moisture
Because moisture is critical to these termites, solving moisture problems is an important part of dampwood termite control. Plumbing problems, leaks in roof or siding, wood that is touching the ground and even rainwater drainage are all examples of situations that may need to be addressed.

Replace damaged wood
After the moisture conditions have been corrected, the damaged wood can be replaced. It is sometimes necessary to use treated wood.

Termiticide treatment in the wood is sometimes necessary. Because these treatments require special tools and equipment, it is advisable to call a termite control professional.

Termite Control

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.

Schedule a FREE inspection

We’ll determine whether you actually have termites, then discuss a treatment plan including financing that works for you.

What Orkin does.

Learn what to expect from your Orkin Technician.


Types of Dampwood Termites

Desert Dampwood Termites

Florida Dampwood Termites

Nevada Dampwood Termites

Pacific Dampwood Termites