Dampwood termites constitute a small and rather primitive family Termopsidae (Latin) of termites (Isoptera). They contain four or five extant genera with 13–20 living species, but can be divided into several subfamilies. They may be a nuisance, but compared to the drywood termites (Kalotermitidae), usually do not cause extensive damage to buildings or other man-made structures. As their name implies, they eat wood that is not dried out, perhaps even rotting, and consequently of little use to humans.
The termites as a group were traditionally placed in the Exopterygota, but such an indiscriminate treatment makes that group a paraphyletic grade of basal neopterans. Thus, the termites and their closest relatives like the cockroaches relatives are now separated in a clade called Dictyoptera. The dampwood termites are sometimes included with the harvester termites (Hodotermitidae), but this is not followed by the majority of authors and indeed the two families seem to represent distinct lineages which both merely retain some similar plesiomorphies and are generally among the more basal Isoptera.
Two of the subfamilies usually placed in the Termopsidae are monotypic. The other one contains three living genera. However, Stolotermes is somewhat aberrant and its placement in the Termopsidae is in need of scrutiny; current understanding suggests it might be better considered much closer to the most advanced termites, such as Rhinotermitidae and Termitidae; perhaps it would better be placed with these, perhaps it even deserves to be treated as a family on its own like Serritermes.
Subfamily Stolotermitinae – provisionally placed here
Several prehistoric genera are placed herein, known only from fossils. Since only a small part of the erstwhile diversity of dampwood termites survives, it is rather difficult to assign these to the subfamilies. Several seem to represent very ancient members of the family; they may be quite basal Termopsidae, so it is indeed unwarranted to place them into a subfamily at all.