Termite infestation is a widespread problem and it can affect almost any homeowner. There are many different types of termites and it’s important to know which one you have in order to determine the appropriate method to treat them. Two of the common termite pests that usually pose a great deal of frustration are dampwood and drywood termites.
So how do you distinguish dampwood termites from drywood termites? Dampwood termites species prefer to live in decayed wood with a high amount of moisture content. Meanwhile, drywood termites don’t need moisture requirements and they can live in dry, sound wood. They’re a more destructive species than dampwood termites and cause severe structural damage and infest furniture and other wooden materials.
When it comes to termite species, everyone is probably already familiar with the Formosan termites and subterranean termites. They’re some of the easily recognizable pests with their cream-colored bodies, elongated heads, and large mandibles which they use to chew through wood. They can be found in almost any part of the country, unlike drywood and dampwood termites which usually infest homes in the southern part of the US and along the Pacific Coast.
Another thing to note about subterranean termites is that they feed mostly on wooden elements, making them the most destructive species of termites. However, dampwood and drywood termites can also pose a significant threat to your property and it’s important to know how to look for them to minimize the damage they can cause.
Here are the main characteristics that you need to know about drywood and dampwood termites:
The color of the bodies of dampwood termites can vary from creamy white to dark brown. Their sizes can also differ depending on their caste, with soldier termites growing up to 1/2-3/4 inch and swarmers up to 1 inch with their wings. Their reproductives, or the king and queen termite, can grow between ½ to 5/8 inch in length. Their large head also features a mandible on the front.
On the other hand, drywood termite species are smaller than the family of dampwood termites. Typically, their soldiers can grow about 3/8 inches and the reproductive termites measure about 1/2 inch in length. Their bodies are usually dark brown but some species can have a light brown or yellowish shade. Their winged termites usually have a pair of wings that are transparent or gray in color. They also feature a set of mandibles with teeth on their head.
As implied by their name, damp wood termites are attracted to environments and food sources with a high degree of moisture. Outdoors, they can build their colonies within decaying tree stumps, rotten wood, fence posts, and utility poles. Meanwhile, indoor dampwood termites can be found hiding in infested wood furniture, crawl spaces, and isolated areas with excess moisture. Unlike subterranean termites, they don’t need to rely on contact with soil to survive.
Drywood termites are a unique type of pests because they don’t require access to water and soil contact. They tend to live above ground and actively search for sound wood where they can establish their nests. For this reason, dry wood termites are the common culprits for damage in wooden beams, wood siding, flooring, furniture, and structural timbers of your home.
They also like to feed on any cellulose-containing material such as paper and cardboard. They can also be found nesting on firewood, tree stumps, and dead wood.
Swarming refers to the activity when the winged termites leave their colonies and fly in search of a new living environment. Termite swarms typically occur when their existing colony has matured or reached maximum size and capacity. During swarming seasons, thousands of alates or winged adults emerge from the termite nests with the purpose of mating, reproducing, and building a new colony.
Dampwood termites are usually active throughout the year but their swarms can take flight during the summer months. It normally occurs during evenings when the humidity in the environment is high. Meanwhile, drywood termite swarmers typically come out during late summer or early fall. You can mostly find the traces of drywood termite activity on window sills where they usually discard their pairs of wings after mating.
Drywood termites are an aggressive termite species and once they’ve fed on wooden structures, they can cause costly and irreparable structural damage. They tend to create termite galleries or chambers within the wood they’ve infested so you may notice a hollow sound when inspecting wooden surfaces or furniture. They may also damage the joists in your flooring, causing your tiles to sag and become loose.
Meanwhile, the extent of damage by dampwood termites isn’t as severe as the destruction caused by subterranean and drywood termites. Most of the time, wooden structures that have been infested by dampwood species appear smooth inside and may also have a hollow sound.
Although drywood and dampwood termites are both wood-dwelling pests, there are different ways to determine the presence of their activity in your home. Here are the usual signs of infestation for drywood and dampwood species:
|Drywood termite||Dampwood termites|
|You can typically find them behind wood framings, attics, cracks, vents, and under eaves and overhangs You’ll notice frass droppings nearby their kick-out holes from their nests Hollow-sounding wood and squeaky floors also indicate drywood termite infestation Flying drywood termites also like to shed their wings on windowsills after swarming||They don’t build shelter tubes on wood surfaces like most termite species do but they leave signs of fecal material or pellets inside their galleries You may also find discarded wings near horizontal surfaces or doors and window sills If you cut a piece of damaged wood, you may notice that it looks clean and soft inside since they like to eat the grain of decaying wood|
To avoid having termites in your home and to prevent a severe infestation from breaking out, here are some reminders that can help you make your home unattractive for these pests:
Dealing with a termite infestation begins with identifying which species of wood termite you have in your home. Dampwood and drywood termites have distinct nesting habits, swarming behaviors, and signs of infestation.
Consulting with a pest control company can also help you better determine which type of termite is the source of your problem. At Positive Pest Management, our team of pest control technicians can perform termite inspections and recommend the best treatment approach for your space. We’re also experienced with exterminating other household pests like bed bugs, ants, rodents, and roaches. Contact us now to learn more about our pest control solutions.