Hawaii Has A Termite Problem


Remember an earlier discussion about the Longhorn Beetle that migrated here and is currently causing a lot of havoc on Hawaii Island’s agriculture? Well, there’s another non-native insect that hitched a ride here sometime in the last hundred years, and causes more than $150 million in structural damage to the State of Hawaii every year: The Termite!

At last count, there were seven species of immigrant termites living in Hawaii. The two most devastating of the seven are the West Indian Drywood Termite and the Formosan Subterranean Termite. These tiny little creatures do $5 billion in annual damage to America’s homes and properties!

Destructive Hawaii Termites Species


The general similarities of the Drywood and the Formosan Termites are that they both eat wood, they both are about the same size, and they both swarm. Other than that, their living conditions, colony sizes, and natural habits are quite different from one another.

The Drywood Termite lives at or above the ground, usually in the wood it infests so it doesn’t need to venture out and about very much. The Drywood infests relatively dry wood (to include furniture), and requires no source of moisture because it produces its own water while digesting wood. The Formosan Termite lives underground and gets its needed water from the soil around its colonies. Of course, the Formosan has to venture out and about to get wood to eat, so what does it do? Well, the Formosan Termite has superb building skills so it constructs tubes. These tubes – typically called mud tubes – extend from the termite’s underground colonies to a wonderful food source, such as your home. The Formosan builds its mud tubes using a mixture of digested wood and its own poop.

The way in which these two termites eat wood is also so different that it is a great indicator of the type of infestation present. The Drywoods are not picky or meticulous at all: They eat across wood grains and in any direction. The Drywood’s eating habits leaves holes in wood, and what the industry terms “frass” (e.g., sand-like stuff) around. The Formosan is so much more particular: These guys follow the grain of the wood and make long hollows along the grain. So, unless you happen to punch through a piece of wood and find it hollow, a primary infestation indicator of Formosans are finding those mud tubes within walls or along wooden parts of a structure.

Another difference between these two termite species is their colony sizes and the rate at which the colonies grow, which results in their abilities to create a lot of damage in a short period of time. Drywood Termite colonies are small when compared to Formosan Termites. Drywoods may have over a thousand in a colony and take a little longer to establish themselves then Formosans. Beware though, because the Drywood is more likely to be transported from place to place by infested furniture, picture frames, and other wood.

A typical Formosan colony ranges from 1.4-6.8 million termites! The Formosan’s foraging areas can by anywhere from 1,700 square feet to 38,424 square feet (this is about .9 acre). This means that, depending on lot sizes in a typical neighborhood, your neighbor’s Formosan infestation can easily get to your house too.

If you think you have a termite problem or you just want more information about termite infestation, please feel free to give us a call. We offer several termite problem solutions including termite ground treatment and of course your traditional termite tenting. Until then, always providing you Service with Aloha.

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