Termites marching? Drop a bomb

Kaua‘i may be a paradise, but it is also a sort of paradise for the always-hungry termite. The wood-eating insects can do serious damage to the home if not exterminated.

Keith Smith of Expert Exterminators in Koloa said homeowners should always be aware of their homes and surroundings.

“They should be on top of the situation all the time,” Smith said.

There are two types of termites, accoording to Smith, that can be a problem here in Hawai‘i: the West Indian drywood termite and the Formosan subterranean termite.

“The drywood termite is more of a nuisance than a structural threat to the house,” he said, “although over a long period of time, they can do damage and become more of a problem; about 10 to 15 years or so if they’re allowed to go on their merry way.”

The drywood termite is an aerial nester, meaning it can live on a certain piece of wood and doesn’t need a moisture source.

Things to look for in inspecting for the drywood termite is its droppings or fecal pellets. Smith said the pellets will be uniform in size and don’t readily crush in hand. The kind of wood the termite is eating will determine the color of the pellets.

The way to fix this is to replace the affected areas. However, Smith said, there’s a good possibility that more termites could be in other areas. The way to make sure the termites have been completely exterminated is tent fumigation.

“(Homeowners) need to make sure (the termites) are not in other areas. It will cost more to replace cabinetry than it will to fumigate,” he said.

The subterranean termite is more aggressive than the drywood termite.

“They always have to eat and they are bringing back food to the colony,” he said. “They’re much more developed social insects than ants or bees. They’re builders and destroyers.”

Also unlike the drywood termite, the subterranean termite needs moisture. Sources of moisture for the subterranean termite can be ponding water from the home, a leaky pipe under the sink or rotting wood.

Smith said if the cabinetry is starting to look warped or slightly damaged, this may be a sign of termites.

There are two ways to treat this: Termidor or Sentricon.

According to Termidor’s Web site, Termidor is an odorless chemical that is applied along the foundation walls of the home. This creates continuous treatment for the home.

Sentricon is a baiting system device that sits in the ground and eliminates the termite colony. There are no chemicals or spraying involved.

Smith said if in doubt when it comes to termites, call an expert for advice or a consultation. When building a new home, Smith said, it may be helpful to consult a professional to inspect the foundation to better defend against the subterranean termite.

“Be aware of the problem and the expert will determine what’s the best cause of treatment,” he said.

For more information on the two treatments, visit the Termidor Web site at www.termidorhome.com and Sentricon at www.dowagro.com/sentricon.

 Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.

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