Annoying Little Buggers! Prepare for Termite Swarm Season

It’s that time of year again:  termite swarm season.

termitesOn certain evenings from May to July, for a few hours after sunset on nights when the air is warm and still, Hawaii residents will often find termites flying around outdoor lights and sometimes even indoor lights, televisions and computer screens.

The “alates” or “swarmers” are looking for mates on nights like these.  Pairs that survive the geckos, toads and ants waiting in the wings to eat them will likely become the founders of new colonies.

According to the University of Hawaii’s CTAHR Cooperative Extension Service, the two most common types of termites in Hawaii are the West Indian drywood termite and the Formosan subterranean termite.

These termites cause over $100 million in damage to structures in Hawaii each year, so homeowners are advised to be vigilant about treating infestations as they are discovered.

View CTAHR’s Hawaii Termites – An Identification Guide (PDF)

Buyers are advised to have a professional termite inspection during the inspection period agreed upon in the “Termite Provisions” section of the Purchase Contract, which states:

The obligation of the Buyer to purchase the Property is contingent upon the delivery to Buyer within the time specified…an inspection report stating there is no visible evidence of active (i.e., live) termite infestation, or the treatment of such improvements by no later than five (5) days prior to the Scheduled Closing Date.

Sellers are required to disclose “any prior and/or current infestation and damage of which the Seller is aware.”

For the rest of us, turning off as many lights as possible between 7:00 and 9:00 pm is the best short-term solution.  And contacting a professional for an inspection if you see tell-tale droppings or mud tunnels is recommended in order to protect the value of your real estate investment.


The University of Hawaii Termite Project has an interesting collection of photos and several helpful tips for homeowners and buyers.  Here are links to a few pages that may be especially helpful:

Cynthia Hoskins, R(S) is Clark Realty Corporation’s Social Media Liaison
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  1. Great article Cynthia! NOBODY warned us about the swarms before we moved here and when it happened we were quite shocked.

    Devany on May 29, 2010 at 12:43 pm
    • Thanks Devany. It’s surprisingly easy to forget about swarm season…until that first warm night in May when the trade winds have disappeared and the termites make their presence known again. I was just telling someone yesterday how the toads also seem to emerge en masse on those nights to try to catch the termites after they drop their wings and fall to the ground. Never knew we had so many toads around our Hilo house until I had my first experience with swarm season!

      Cynthia Hoskins, R(S) on May 29, 2010 at 7:24 pm
  2. Good points, Cynthia. Specially about buyers being advised/encouraged to get a termite inspection (for a very reasonable fee you could have peace of mind… which could save you PILES of money).

    Alex Cortez on May 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm

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