Subterranean Termite vs Dampwood Termite: Pioneer Pest Management answers common questions about termites, and how to prevent them in Portland OR and Vancouver WA.Here at Pioneer, we believe in giving you the information you need to make decisions about your pest control protection. We’re committed to helping our customers through the study of insect behavior, and today we’d like to talk about termites!

Although all species of termites seem to be all the same, there’s one important distinction: where they live. Knowing where to look for termites can mean the difference between finding an infestation before damage–or not finding it at all. This distinction is particularly clear when talking about subterranean termites vs dampwood termites.

Types of Termites and Their Habits

Subterranean termites are incredibly destructive.

These termites can be found throughout most of the continental United States. Subterranean termites use underground tunnels to remain unseen while seeking out wooden structures to eat.

Because subterranean termites connect their underground tunnels to feeding locations, utility holes and cracks in foundations are ideal entrances. This species of termites use their numbers, saw-like jaws, and ability to stay hidden to cause irreparable damage to a home.

Dampwood termites are common in the Pacific NW.

Unlike subterranean termites, dampwood termites live in damp or decaying wood. They tunnel, live, and eat through wood that has a high water content, and they need to be close to a source of water at all times.

If an opportunity presents itself through rotting or damp wood, they will grow a colony in a human structure. Unlike subterranean termites, dampwood termites don’t need to return to the soil to eat. This makes finding them a little more difficult, as there are no tell-tale mud tubes.

Once they establish a colony within walls or structural elements, dampwood termites will continue to hollow out anything made of wood, potentially weakening support beams, and causing extensive damage.

Specific Targets of Dampwood Termites

Since dampwood termites are more prevalent in the Pacific NW, let’s take a closer look at how they get into human buildings to begin with. These termites will start their invasion with damp wood–but what does that look like? Dampwood infestations are found in areas where:

  • A plumbing leak has occurred, but was never fixed
  • The roof leaked
  • A crawlspace never dried out
  • Wood siding was allowed to decay
  • Wood rot (fungus) has spread
  • Damp ground soil has been allowed to touch wood directly, creating damp conditions
  • A lot of these conditions are commonly occurring in homes, especially homes in the rainy Pacific NW.

Regular and Seasonal Termite Inspections

You can’t predict which type of termite might choose your home, and you certainly can’t predict when they might invade your home. But you can choose to protect your home with regular inspections performed by a professional pest control company. If you’d like to safeguard your investment and home with the help of termite experts, call Pioneer Pest Management today!

Subterranean Termite vs Dampwood Termite in Portland OR and Vancouver WA

Serving Customers on the East Side:


Portland | NE Portland | Gresham | Happy Valley | Clackamas | Milwaukie | Mt Tabor | Belmont | Lloyd Center | Laurelhurst | Hollywood District


On the West Side:


Downtown Portland | Beaverton | Tigard | Hillsboro | Cornell | Sylvan | Cedar Hills


And in the Vancouver WA Area:


Downtown Vancouver | Fruit Valley | Hazel Dell | Felida | Cascade Park | Camas Washington