It’s that time of year again: termite swarm season.
On 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.
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:
- Inspecting the property of a previously-occupied home
- Understanding termite-resistant building material options for new homes
- Homeowners Guide: Prevention and Control