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H O N O L U L U S TA R - A D V E R T I S E R > > T H U R S D AY 5 / 3 0 / 1 3

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WHAT BUGS HAWAII

Termites are one of Hawaii’s worst pests in terms of the damage they cause

Chambers Where nymphs and food are stored

Galleries Paths cut across wood grain as colonies expand

Kick holes Tiny openings for ejecting fecal matter called frass

THE TERMITE COLONY Both subterranean and drywood termite colonies are cooperative groups made up of decentralized nesting and feeding sites called chambers. These sites are connected by tunnels called galleries.

HUNGRY HOME HAZARDS
GRAPHIC BY DAVID SWANN • STORY BY JIM BORG Left unchecked, termites literally can bring down the house. Of the eight species in Hawaii — all of them alien invaders — two do the most damage: the Formosan subterranean termite and the West Indian drywood termite. Both have been long established in Hawaii, allowing for large colonies, says J. Kenneth Grace, an entomologist with the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources. “A mature colony of 3 million subterranean termites eats approximately 1 pound of wood each day, or about a 1-foot length of a two-by-four,” says Grace. Methods of fighting the Formosan termite, Coptotermes formosanus, include the use of preservative-treated wood in housing construction, treatment of the soil with an insecticide, and physical barriers made of basalt or wire mesh. Soil treatment with an insecticide or termite baits such as the Sentricon system are the usual control measures when a building is infested. The West Indian drywood termite, Cryptotermes brevis, also found all over the world, spreads easily in furniture and in shipping pallets. Since drywood termites live directly in wood, control is focused above ground, with fumigation the most effective method. The third most damaging termite is the Asian subterranean termite, Coptotermes gestroi. “We found it in 1999 in a termite survey of Oahu, and as far as we know it is only found at this point on Oahu, in the areas of Kalaeloa, Ewa Beach and Makakilo,” says Grace. Hawaii, Taiwan and southern Florida are the only spots where both species of subterranean termite coexist. Two of the other eight species have been long established in Hawaii but usually attack wood in the forest rather than in houses. And the others have not been here long enough to become big pests.

Actual size 1/5”

Formosan subterranean worker termite

THE ANATOMY OF A TERMITE FOR INFESTATION Mandible

WHAT TO DO WHEN TERMITES STRIKE The fundamental strategy to avoid costly termite damage is preventive management through regular, professional inspections. When termites are found in a building, options for remedial control vary with termite type. >> Drywood termites: Can be controlled with spot treatments, which can be cost-effective if the damage is fairly localized. If the damage is extensive, whole-structure fumigation (tenting) may be required to effectively combat the infestation. >> Subterranean termites: Infestations frequently involve creating chemical or physical barriers where the structure meets the soil. Termite baiting can both monitor and control subterranean termites.

Worker

West Indian drywood soldier Antenna

Formosan subterranean soldier

BY THE NUMBERS Number of termites in a colony Number of years a queen can live Number of known species worldwide Number of estimated species worldwide Number of eggs a queen can lay per day

Head Thorax Legs Abdomen

1 million+ 45 2,800 4,000 20,000 to 30,000

TH

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LU D E S T H R LE I NC EE D C Y C I FF E E LI F
Larva Hatches directly from the eggs Eggs Nymph Molts from larva within two weeks Worker caste Sterile, wingless and blind, they build nests and fetch food Soldier caste Defends the nest with powerful jaws called mandibles Alate (swarmer) Young, winged reproductives of both sexes Dealate Alates that cast their wings and turn into kings and queens

RE

NT

ST CA
ES

Alate

King

Queen

GREAT LOCATION FOR INFESTATION Hawaii’s year-round warm weather allows one of the worst insect pests in the world to infest all of the Hawaiian islands. All species here use wood as a food source with the help of micro-organisms in their digestive systems. The two most destructive are: >> Formosan subterranean termite: Lives primarily underground and moves up into structures or trees to feed. Because Hawaii is so warm and humid, it is likely to swarm any time during the year. >> West Indian drywood termite: Lives in wood at or above ground level. It swarms at night in the summer. HAWAII’S OWN There are eight species of termites in Hawaii: >> Lowland tree termite >> Large forest tree termite >> Indo-Malaysian drywood termite >> Western drywood termite >> Pacific dampwood termite >> Asian subterranean termite >> Formosan subterranean termite >> West Indian drywood termite

King and queen termite These are the main reproductive individuals in a colony; the queen can lay many thousands of eggs per day

Reproductive caste

The two species have been in Hawaii for more than 100 years. They cause more than $100 million in damage per year to structures.

Sources: University of Hawaii at Manoa; College of Tropical Agriculture & Human Resources; www.termiteweb.com; www.environcontrol.com/termites