Real Estate

Maui Homeowners Battle Termites

March 21, 2016, 12:51 PM HST
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Termite tent, source: Google Images, 2016 (labeled for reuse)

Termite tent, source: Google Images, 2016 (labeled for reuse)

Throughout the Hawaiian Islands, termites are a huge household pest and expense for homeowners.

You could try to live with your termite problem and try to ignore it, but it won’t go away on its own. If you’re own a home or rental property, or are buying a property with known termite issues, it’s best to deal with it right away.

Instead of watching your property get eaten alive by Hawai‘i’s many termite types, fix the problem as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll find that your property will be eventually eaten away, you’ll have to start replacing staircases and window moldings, and the issue will just get worse. You might even need to do demo work and rebuild main parts of your home.

These are all persistent, messy little critters, and most importantly, they are extremely destructive. Like other nasty Hawai‘i pests, such as rats and cockroaches, termites are just doing their natural thing—eating because they are hungry.

Termite droppings. Maui Now photo.

Termite droppings. Maui Now photo.

How Do You Know If You Have Termites?


There are the obvious signs, such as structural damage, holes in wood moldings, crumbling drywall and piles of dark fecal pellets on surfaces. It looks like black sand or small little wood shavings, but it’s really termite droppings.


During the spring in Hawai‘i, you may also encounter swarms of alates (flying termites) inside and outside of your home that drop their wings when their swarming period is complete. So, you may see some little transparent wings collect in window sills or on the floor of your home. That is definitely another sign.

Building A New Home?

If you are building a new home on Maui, make sure to do your very best to eliminate any chances of termites taking refuge in it. Build a termite-resistant home using pre-construction treatments, steel framing, steel posts and steel pillars. You might also want to consider a basaltic termite barrier (BTB) under concrete slabs and an additional termi-mesh barrier. In addition, roof materials and sub-flooring should be constructed using treated wood. Zinc borate, disodium octaborate tetra hydrate, and chromate copper arsenate (CCA) are popular pre-build wood treatments.

Termite damage. Maui Now photo.

Termite damage. Maui Now photo.


Termite Solutions

There are a handful of ways to battle termite infestations in Hawai‘i; toxic and non-toxic, invasive and non-invasive.

If you already know that you have an existing termite problem, you have a few choices for going to war against these stubborn termites, including plant-based termite solutions and chemical-based termite solutions.

Plant-Based Termite Solutions

Orange oil is proven to be an effective and natural treatment for Drywood Termites. On Maui, there are a few businesses that offer orange oil termite treatments and this offers many benefits. First of all, it is a non-toxic treatment, so, there is no need to tent and fumigate your home, move out of your house for days, board your pets and then deep clean your house when you move back in. The process entails injecting termite-infested wood with orange oil. On contact, the orange oil spreads though the wood, killing any living termites and eggs. But, if your home is fully infested with termites, you may need to repeat the treatments.

Chemical-Based Termite Solutions

Chemical-based termite solutions are unfortunately—and fortunately—the most effective way to rid your home of a bad termite infestation. Common chemical-based termite solutions include ground treatments, spot treatments and tent fumigation.

In Hawai‘i, you know when termites have been driving a family crazy when you see the striped “circus tents” go up in your neighborhood.

Tent tent fumigation is the most invasive termite treatment possible, but it doesn’t guarantee that termites wont come back, or that you may not need any further treatments.

The most commonly used termite fumigation chemicals are vikane gas and various solutions with sulfuryl flouride, a substance that is believed to stay in the atmosphere for up to 100 years.

Mahalo for reading Maui Now’s “Maui’s Homeowners Battle Termites” article! Let us know about any termite treatments that have worked for you that we didn’t mention. What’s the worst case of termites you’ve ever seen?



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