Portland Dampwood Termite Control
More than 2,000 species of termites exist in the world, and can be grouped into three categories: Subterranean, Damp Wood and Dry Wood. Damp Wood Termites are particularly prevalent in the Pacific Northwest. They are related to cockroaches, yet demonstrate a social behavior similar to that of ants and bees. This is one reason why termites are often confused with ants.
Unlike ants, Damp Wood Termites have straight, bead-like antennae instead of elbowed ones. The abdomen is joined to the thorax while an ant’s thorax and abdomen are joined by a node. They live in colonies comprised of three castes: a king and queen, workers, and soldiers. The king and queen are about a quarter of an inch long and perform all reproductive functions of the colony.
Workers are about three-sixteenths of an inch long, light-colored, and wingless. They carry on all aspects of the colony maintenance including feeding the colony and building the nest. Soldiers are approximately three-quarters of an inch long with the head and jaws comprising about one-third of its length. In general, Damp Wood Termites are cream-colored to dark brown. However, soldiers have large reddish-brown to black-colored heads and cream-colored bodies.
A mature queen in a colony lays thousands of eggs each year, helping the colony grow exponentially and thereby infest and destroy homes. As colonies mature, reproductive termites swarm from the nest in search of a partner to settle down with and build another nest. Among insects, termites are unique in this way. Once the male finds a female, he not only assists the female with initial nest building, but also stays with her for the rest of their lives.
Sometimes mistaken for carpenter ants, which typically swarm in the spring, termites swarm on warm, summer evenings, especially after the rain. Since Damp Wood Termites depend heavily on high moisture levels, they will not exit the colony except during swarming season. Once termites gain entry into a wood structure, they have the capability to forage in wood that is solid and dry. Termites then build hollowed-out galleries or tunnels within the wood.
It is within these areas that a mere sampling of fecal pellets, which resemble bits of dry wood but much larger and moist, can help identify whether the pests are termites. This is extremely important because the longer termites are undetected, the bigger the infestation, especially since the queen can live up to 10 years. Also, wood that has lost its solid sound is often an indication that it has been hollowed out by structural pests.
In their natural habitat, termites feed mainly on the wood of trees and the woody tissues of other plants, thereby converting dead wood into humus that enriches the soil. However, termites become a potential threat when they encounter timber used to build homes. Left untreated, the wood has no natural resistance to termite attacks. As result, termites can destroy the timber by reducing it to humus, causing serious damage to a property as well as its value.
- Maintain proper ventilation and remove obstructions that prevent access to the crawlspace
- Keep gutters and downspouts clean, in good repair, and free of clogs
- Use splash blocks where necessary
- Remove all wood including scrap lumber and boards, tree stumps, and firewood from the foundation beneath and around the home
- Move all grills, patio furniture, and wood piles away from the home
- Cut back all shrubs and bushes away from the foundation of the home
- Customer Expectations from Treatment
- Damp Wood Termites are most often discovered by home inspectors and seldom by homeowners. While there is no visible difference, an annual inspection will verify that the infestation has been eliminated.