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Where Do Dampwood Termites Like To Nest?

March 28, 2022
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When you find a termite swarmer within your property, the chances are high that there’s a mature colony nearby and they’re threatening to start an infestation in your home. These swarmers are most likely coming from nearby nests or mounds where termites live with their colonies. Depending on the species of termites, the common places where they build their nests depend on their preferred habitats. 

So where are you most likely to find a dampwood termite nest? Dampwood termite species prefer to establish their nests in places with excess moisture. They typically nest inside decayed wood, damp logs, stumps, and dead trees. They’re also likely to enter homes and infest wooden structures and furniture if you have plumbing problems, roof leaks, and other moisture issues. 

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Where Are Dampwood Termite Nests Usually Found? 

Dampwood termites are aptly named because of their unique preference to live inside damp and rotting wood. Unlike other species of termites, they don’t require contact with soil but instead, they need close access to water. For this reason, they usually build their termite colonies in places with high humidity and moisture content. 

Here are some of the ideal nesting locations of dampwood termites: 

  • Moist wood
  • Wood surfaces that have been exposed to water damage 
  • Wooden siding and construction beams that have been destroyed by rainfall, leaks, or irrigation 
  • Rotting firewood 
  • Crawl spaces, baseboards, door frames, and attics 
  • Nearby leaky showers, damaged roof eaves, moist sheds, and other wooden structures with poor ventilation or water issues 
  • Utility poles and fence posts 
  • Old furniture with untreated wooden surfaces

What Do Termite Nests Typically Look Like? 

The appearance of termite nests can vary depending on which type of termite species built them. But generally, most nests of termites can be found in trees, soil mounds, or hidden underground. Here are the main types of nests that can be established by termites: 

1) Ground mounds 

There are one-piece nest structures built above the ground and they’re usually created from fecal material, saliva, and mud. Termite mounds are carefully constructed with a series of tunnels which worker termites use when searching for food and it also acts as a chamber for their air supply and regulates the temperature inside. 

These ground mounds are known for having a particularly large size, with the biggest one recorded at 19 feet wide and the tallest mound measured at 41 feet wide. The common species that build ground mounds are termites that live in hot climates such as the Macrotermes termite type. 

2) Tree nests

These are termite nests that are usually found attached to the branches, barks, or trunks of large trees. Trees are abundant in cellulose which is the termites’ favorite food source. You may usually find visible shelter tubes or mud tubes constructed along the tree surfaces and this structure protects them from predators and serves as their path when foraging for food. 

Some wood-infesting termites can also build their nests at the base of the trees and slowly infest the living tree by munching on its roots and bark in the soil. The common termites that establish tree nests are Nasutitermes and Microcerotermes termites. 

3) Pole nests

These are nests that are found on human structures like fence posts, utility poles, and telephone poles. Like other termite nests, they are usually constructed from fecal matter and soil and have a rough or grainy appearance from the outside. Dampwood termites are one of the common species that are known to build pole nests, especially if there’s obvious decaying on the wood surface. 

4) Subterranean nests

These are underground nest structures that are usually located at least 4 to 18 inches below the soil. These nests contain several chambers or termite galleries which are connected by the tunnels that termites use to get to their food source. The subterranean termites and Formosan termite species are the ones who commonly build these types of nests. They may also build secondary colonies away from their main nest if they find a suitable habitat with adequate moisture. 

5) Tree wood nests 

These are nests constructed inside living or dead trees. Both dampwood and drywood termites are known for dwelling inside trees. For drywood termites, they can live directly within sound wood and create tunnels or chambers inside the trees that are infesting. On the other hand, dampwood termite nests can be found inside dead wood or decaying trees. 

What Is Inside A Dampwood Termite Nest? 

Dampwood termites are social insects and the members of their colony work together to maintain their nests and ensure their survival. Their nests are more than just a pile of dirt, soil, and fecal matter. It can contain thousands of termite members and since they follow a caste system, each termite has a role of their own.

Here are the different types of termites in a dampwood colony: 

1) Reproductive termites 

During swarming season, winged reproductives emerge from their existing colonies and search for a suitable location where they can create their new colonies. Once the termite swarmers find their mate, they shed their wings and become the respective king and queen termites of the new colony. 

Dampwood termite reproductives can measure between 1/2 to 5/8 inch in length. They tend to have brown to light tan and yellowish bodies with a pair of dark brown wings.

2) Nymphs or immature termites 

Dampwood termite colonies typically don’t have a worker caste. However, they have nymphs or young termites who take up most of the responsibilities of worker termites. They can grow up to 5/8 inches long and although they’re small, they can do their job of searching for food and bringing it back to their colony. 

They’re usually wingless but they can grow to become winged adults by undergoing molting which is a process where they shed their exoskeletons to become fully-developed reproductives. When the colonies reach maturity, they can take part during the swarming season. 

3) Soldier termites

Dampwood termite soldiers can measure up to 3/4 inch in length and they have distinct large dark brown heads with sharp mandibles. The soldier termites are primarily tasked with protecting the colony and nest from external predators. If they detect a threat, they will send a signal to their colony and they are capable of biting other pests who attempt to attack their nests. 

Signs That A Dampwood Termite Nest Is Active 

frass and termite droppings , pest control needed for termite infestation

There are different signs that can indicate that there’s an existing dampwood termite colony within your property. Here are the usual pieces of evidence of dampwood termite infestation: 

1) Discarded wings 

When dampwood termites swarmers find their mate, they shed their wings on surfaces like windowsills or near door frames before going off to look for a new place to build their colony. You may find increased sightings of termite wings during summer months which is the optimal time for swarming for dampwood termites. 

2) Hollow sound

Dampwood termites like to create galleries inside the wooden structures that they infest and this can lead to a hollow, soft sound that you can hear when you tap on the surface. This happens because the majority of the interior of the wood structure has been eaten away. Another sign of damage by dampwood termite is when the inside of the wood looks smooth and clean. 

3) Fecal pellets 

When you cut open a decayed wood, you may also find frass or fecal droppings stuck to the sides of their galleries. In some cases, you may find them piled up just outside the structures that they’re infesting. 

What Attracts Dampwood Termites To Your Property? 

In order to survive, dampwood termites are always in search of food sources and will establish their nesting sites wherever they find a suitable environment. Here are some of the living conditions that may be attracting dampwood termites to your property:  

1) Decaying piles of wood 

Stacks of firewood and rotting wood debris are the number one attractant for dampwood termites. They may also be easily drawn to dead trees, logs, and stumps in your backyard. To prevent a possible infestation, make sure to keep firewood at least 20 feet away from your home and eliminate direct soil contact. You should clear your vicinity and remove dead wood from your property. 

2) Crawl spaces, vents, and clogged gutters 

Houses with leaking structures, poor ventilation, and plumbing issues are ideal living locations for dampwood termites since it has excess moisture. Additionally, clogged gutters can lead to unwanted build-up of leaves and water which can cause damage to homes by forming molds in roofs and attracting dampwood termites. You should make sure to fix and repair any leak problems, regularly check your ventilation, and clean the gutters to avoid these pests. 

3) Mulch  

While using mulch can improve your home’s landscaping, it can contribute to an increase in soil moisture which can become an attractive source of food for dampwood termites. It’s best to use alternatives to mulch or if you really want to, just install them at least several feet away from the home’s foundation. 

Common Dampwood Termite Control Methods 

Pest control professionals can use different approaches to solve your termite infestation. Here are the common effective methods for exterminating dampwood termites: 

  • Wood treatment - This termite treatment involves application of insecticide or repellent to wood surfaces. You can also apply a coat of varnish to the wood to prevent them from termites or use a wood sealant to control moisture and protect them from water damage. Another option is to use pressure-treated wood for your outdoor furniture and construction elements.
  • Bait stations - Termite bait systems contain an active insecticide bait that worker termites will bring back to their colony. When termite baits are installed in the right locations, it can be effective for eliminating the entire colony.
  • Heat treatment - This termite control method is effective for killing termites inside the house. It is done by sealing the house and using heaters or fans to bring hot air into the interior of the home. This method works for dampwood termites because excessive heat can effectively reduce indoor moisture. 
  • Barrier treatment - Termite barriers help prevent termites from finding access to your home. It can use liquid treatments which involve placing chemical termiticide within the perimeter of the home or soil treatments that use contaminated soil to repel termites.  

Work With The Best Termite Control Professionals at Positive Pest Management 

professional pest control worker spraying pesticide for termite control

Dampwood termites may not be as destructive as the drywood and subterranean termites but its infestation can still be a great cause of concern for many homeowners. To protect your property from a serious dampwood termite problem, you should minimize sources of moisture and dead wood where they’re likely to build their nests. 

At Positive Pest Management, we can help you take control of your termite issues with our pest control services. We can offer a comprehensive pest control and management program which includes inspection, extermination, and prevention to keep your homes termite-free. Call us today and schedule a home visit from our pest control team.

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