October 11, 2010 - tdrake
“I’m sorry to say, but…YOU HAVE TERMITES!!!”
Aaaaahhhhhhh!!!!! The words every homeowner hates to hear. Especially when those termites are the dreaded Formosan Subterranean Termite (coptotermes formosanus). These guys do over $1 billion in home and structural damage in the United States, every year, with 10% of that being done in our beautiful state of Hawaii ($100 million). These little buggers were reportedly first noticed in the Honolulu area as “wood eating maggots” in the late 1800’s but were never confirmed until the early 1900’s. Their colony size can range from 2-20 million termites in a single colony, and it is this enormous colony size, that drives them to eat large amounts of wood in a very short period of time. They need large amounts of moisture to survive, and therefore, the colony itself does not generally reside in a structure, but rather in the ground, close to a source of constant moisture. From time to time the colony does reside in a structure, but usually only when there is large amount of moisture available inside the structure. Signs of an infestation (other than the severely obvious, like the opening picture) include sagging in the walls or ceiling, mud tubes extending from the ground, dirt slits appearing in drywall or visible wood, or possibly even alates.
If you have seen any of these signs, it’s possible that you have a ground termite infestation in your home, and you are probably wondering what needs to be done to keep them out of your home. The first thing is to call a professional in to help evaluate the situation and develop a plan to eliminate the current infestation and create a protective barrier around the home to protect your home. That professional should recommend one or two of a few possible choices.
- Termidor Perimeter Plus liquid barrier-This is a treatment using a widely known and available termite control product called Termidor. This product claims to be able to eliminate an entire colony, but more importantly, this product is in a class of non-repellent termiticides, that the termites are unable to detect, and so walk through contaminated soil without realizing that it is there. The product also has what the manufacturer refers to as a “transfer effect”, where the product can pass from termite to termite through normal social insect mingling, which is why they claim a full colony elimination.
- Sentricon or other types of termite bait (Advance, Exterra)-This is a treatment that involves putting stations around the exterior perimeter of the structure, every 10 -20 feet, that contain what some refer to as an “inspection cartridge”, but is basically a really yummy (to termites) broken down cellulose that the termites consume but has no termiticide in it. These stations are meant to be checked on either a monthly or quarterly basis, and when termites are found in the inspection cartridge, it is carefully removed and replaced with a “bait cartridge” that actually contains the termiticide to kill the termites. The product usually effects the entire colony and has been proven in independent studies, that a full colony elimination can be achieved. Be careful with these products, as not all of them use the same active ingredient, and some of the active ingredients, while they work on other types of subterranean termites, do not work on the Formosan termites for one reason or another. I have also witnessed termites missing the stations completely and infesting the house.
- Tent Fumigation using Vikane-This is only done when an aerial nest is found in the house itself. This is a worst case scenario. If this is recommended there will more than likely be one of the other types of treatment also recommended, to prevent the termites from getting back into the house.
So, if you are concerned about Formosan ground termite problems, please remember to call a professional, and if your on Maui, call Bug Man.