Termites have been in Hawaii for as long as I can remember. I didn’t know much about these insects except that they have wings. They appeared more amusing than troublesome. A few termites would fly around the dining room. When that happened, we dimmed the lights and placed a bowl of water on the table. I remember watching the termites dive into the water but never saw them fly back out.

Termites are a major concern for Hawaii residents. These pests can cause severe structural damage in a short period. People are unaware of their presence until the damage is done. Did you know that these culprits can completely destroy a home?

Solutions

  • Inspect areas above termite droppings (ceiling and roof).
  • Look for discarded wings around windows, doors, and light fixtures.
  • Examine blistered paint, dark discoloration, and pinpoint holes in walls and floors.
  • Look under carpet and padding for worn fiber or tiny holes.
  • Inspect and determine if the wood near an affected area is hollow.
  • Trim trees and plants that grow close to the house.
  • Avoid leaving scaffolds or ladders near wooden structures for an extended period.
  • Prevent water from accumulating around the foundation.
  • Fix leaking taps and faulty plumbing.
  • Replace or repair screens on windows or doors.
  • Seal crevices, gaps, and expansion joints.
  • Remove mulch and scrap wood near or under the house.
  • Use pressure-treated wood if in contact with the soil.
  • Install a termite bait monitoring station.
  • Spray infested areas with a pesticide foam or aerosol (take precaution).

Remedies

  • Saturate a stack of cardboard with water. Leave near the suspected area.
  • Spray damaged wood with a solution of equal parts warm water and salt.
  • Combine the juice of 2 lemons with 1/2 cup of vinegar in a spray bottle.
  • Sprinkle cayenne pepper powder over areas where there may be termites.
  • Rub orange oil on the infested surface. Wait a few days then reapply.
  • Fill a spray bottle with paraffin oil then spray directly on the site.
  • Pour clove oil in a spray bottle and use near termite activity.

Want to know more about Termites?

A diverse breed of termites exists in the islands. Two of the most common breeds in Hawaii are known as the West Indian drywood termite and the Formosan subterranean termite. They are considered “social” insects that sustain in colonies. These termites are further identified by a caste (class) system consisting of soldiers, workers, and reproductives. The drywood and the Formosan termite are the most destructive and economically damaging termites in Hawaii.

Formosan Subterranean Termite

The Formosan subterranean termite is commonly known as the ground termite. Ground termites are widespread and invasive. They eat a big chunk out of our wallets! In Hawaii, the costs to control these termites exceed $100 million annually.

Termites thrive best in moist environments. They are unwanted visitors that take advantage of our weather and have a blast eating our homes. Ground termites devour decayed wood since it’s much easier to consume. They are capable of gnawing through electrical insulation, resulting in extensive damage and unsafe conditions.

Ground termites infest our homes in massive colonies consisting of millions of termites. These creatures build mud tunnels above the ground and are capable of traveling hundreds of feet. Mud tubes help them connect to the soil looking for moisture and more wood to feed on. Their tunnels can extend across the ground, wall, or branch from the ceiling in various shapes and sizes. Imagine a miniature tunnel on the ground with a diameter similar to chopsticks.

Drywood Termite

West Indian drywood termites are annoying pests. Because they are not as widespread as the Formosan termites, they cause less damage to our wallets. Drywood termites are STILL considered among Hawaii’s most damaging termites. These species survive in wood for years before being discovered. Imagine all the fun they’re having in the meantime…eating our furniture, too.

These termites also love Hawaii’s tropical weather. Drywood termites prefer dry wood but will help themselves to both solid AND rotted wood. They get a free ride into our homes via infested furniture and other wooden objects or by flying through open windows and doors. Inaccessible areas such as crawl spaces and attics are some of their secret hideaways.

Their colonies are small, usually over a thousand members. They build hollow tunnels (eating wood from the inside) to travel through. Wooden support beams weaken, causing the structure to become fragile, unstable, and even collapse. Can you imagine 10,000 termites in your home? There can be even more, depending on the number of colonies present.