Pacific Dampwood workers measure around 3/8” to 3/4” long, and are cream to tan in color. The soldiers are 3/4” long and have a flattened brown or yellowish brown head with elongated black mandibles. Swarmers are reddish brown with brown wings.
The Pacific dampwood termite is the largest termite in the Bay Area. This termite does not extract water from the ground, but they do have high moisture requirements and are often associated with wood decay.
There is no true caste system with dampwood termites. The workers are in charge of gathering food, colony expansion, caring for the queen and all immature stages. All work is performed by immature soldiers and reproductive swarmers. Soldiers are the defenders of the colony. Their primary enemy is ants, usually carpenter ants. Due to the size of their mandibles soldiers are unable to feed themselves.
They have small swarms periodically throughout the year. Dampwood termite swarmers are attracted to light and it is common to find them caught in spider webs near exterior lights. Workers & Soldiers are usually found in tree stumps and fallen tree branches. On structures they can be found in leaky roofs, leaky windows, leaky tubs or showers, sub areas with inadequate ventilation or plumbing leaks, or even old wood decking.
Dampwood termite fecal pellets are larger than drywood pellets and because they require high moisture they are not loose. They will use their pellets to block off their galleries if needed.
Eliminating the high moisture from the structure is the key to control the dampwood termites.