Nevada Dampwood Termites


  • Scientific name: Zootermopsis nevadensis
  • Size: 3/4th of an inch
  • Color: Creamy white with spotted abdomens (nymphs) and creamy white with reddish brown heads ending in dark jaws (soldiers)
  • Shape: Long. Rounded bodies with rounded, soft heads (nymphs) and rectangular heads with long jaws (soldiers)
  • Found in: Nevada, Montana and Idaho as well as California, Oregon and Washington.

What are they?
This type of termite is sometimes called the “rottenwood termite” because of it’s propensity for attacking wood with a very high degree of decay and moisture. These types of termites tend to swarm in the spring at higher elevations and in the summer or early fall in coastal regions. This termite species is an occasional pest of mountain homes, cabins and campground structures above a certain elevation.
How can you tell you have them?
Nevada dampwood termites have such a high requirement of moisture in the wood they inhabit that often times the signs of decay are evident on their own and termite damage is only found secondarily. Look for areas in your home that are extremely susceptible to water damage, such as the areas near the downspouts for gutters, any area of the home where there has been flood damage, leaky pipes or drains. Subflooring under bathrooms and areas with high water traffic such as kitchens and washer/dryer hook ups are also areas that are suspect. If you have a home that is partially on or near water, your home may also be very susceptible to infestation by this type of termite in the areas where they are most common.
What kind of environment do they like?
This type of termite can live in the wood they consume and do not require contact with the soil. They can occasionally infest homes through contact with outside timber such as fenceposts, wood siding close to the ground and areas of moisture damage or areas where moisture damage is likely, like downspouts from gutters. Though they can cause property damage to human structures, most houses do not contain a high enough moisture content to attract this species of termite and they are not common to heavily populated areas. Areas of human habitation that are not heavily trafficked are also susceptible to this type of termite’s infestation because the lack of daily attention can lead to moisture problems getting out of hand to a point where the Nevada dampwood termite will be attracted to those locations.
Eating habits
This type of termite requires an extremely moisture rich environment. They will therefore infest areas with high moisture damage and feed on the soft parts of timber. In the wild, the Nevada dampwood termite feeds on wood buried in the ground and at least partially decayed. In man-made habitats they will most likely infest derelict buildings and other structures that have not been treated.
What to do?
Because of this termite’s high reliance on a moisture rich environment, the first method of dealing with infestations of this kind of termite is to get rid of the source of moisture damage.

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