Dampwood termites are the largest termites in Australia with the soldiers of some species up to 15 mm long. However, they are not considered to be of economic importance as they generally feed on rotting timber.
Termite genus: Various (dampwood termites):
- Porotermes, Neotermes, Glyptotermes, Bifiditermes, Ceratokalotermes
- Porotermes adamsoni
- Neotermes insularis
- Glyptotermes tuberculatus & eucalypti
- Porotermes adamsoni – Coastal belt from S.E. Queensland southwards to Ceduna, South Australia and also found in Tasmania.
- Neotermes insularis – Coastal belt and associated hinterlands of Northern Territory, Queensland, New South Wales & Victoria
- Glyptotermes tuberculatus & eucalypt – Coastal belt and associated hinterland areas from tropical north Queensland to Adelaide, South Australia
Typical nest location:
Dampwood termites nest in small isolated pockets in the wood of living trees and sometimes in timber in service such as power poles & stumps.
Colony stucture / size:
- Single-site nesters, meaning they set up inside the tree or timber they are feeding on and do not move except for colonising flights (alates)
- They live in many small independent groups or colonies in the wood/tree numbering only in the hundreds
Distinguishing features / behaviours:
- Porotermes adamsoni – Large termite with the soldiers measuring close to 15mm in length.
- Neotermes insularis – Largest soldier of all Australian species, regularly measuring 15mm in length. Is in the same family as drywood termites and similarly has dry pellets (frass) inside their galleries.
- Glyptotermes tuberculatus & eucalypti – Soldier range up to 9mm in length and have 2 lumps (bilobed) on the front of the head.
Generally feed on rotting timbers, logs, stumps and inside living trees.
Appearance of damage:
- Usually associated with decay
- They have no extensive subterranean gallery system, and often have no contact with the soil
- Not considered to be of economic significance
- Dampwood termites can attack power poles and sometimes the damage can be severe with some poles falling over
Dampwood termite treatment notes:
Exceedingly difficult to successfully treat. It is thought that within large food sources that there may be multiple colonies that are not connected to each other. Need a lot of time and patience to attempt to locate each gallery/void and inject with a toxicant labelled for dampwood termites (foaming products may be beneficial).
Dampwood termites interesting facts:
- Dampwood termites generally feed on rotting timbers on the forest floor and seldom become a nuisance to humans. However, if a structure has decay issues associated with timber being exposed to the elements (fencing, decking timbers and even internal timbers via a leaking roof etc), dampwood termites can further damage such timbers and may even venture into the surrounding sound timber.
- Dampwood termites living in standing trees and can survive after the tree has been cut down, preservative treated and put into service as a power pole. However, most of the damage is done to the pole by the associated decay throughout the termite tunnels rather than the termite itself.
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Banner image credit: Ceratokalotermes spoliator. Creative Commons 4.0. Sarah McCaffrey, Museums Victoria on padil.gov.au