In the last issue of the Malama, the Sierra Club journal of the Hawai’i Chapter, I wrote of the unnecessary and unwise use of pesticides as a preventative for ground termites. The county building code requires a home builder to do preventative treatment before pouring their concrete pad whether they live in lava rock areas that do not host them, or in areas like Volcano that are too cold for them.
In response to that letter, I learned of the concern of several Kona resident’s about the using of the termite pesticide in the several large developments being built near the anchialine ponds. They are in areas without soil to hold the termiticide and prevent it from going into the groundwater. These rare and fragile ponds are home to unusual plants and animals. They are located close to the shoreline and are one of Hawaii’s most threatened ecosystems.
Also since my letter I have learned of several recent studies showing even more dangers to the environment from use of these termiticides, known as synthetic pyrethroids. Therefore, an even stronger case can be made against their “blanket” use over all the island. The alternatives permitted by the building code, basaltic sand and termi-mesh, while more expensive, are effective for decades.
There is also a question as to the effectiveness of spraying before building. The pesticide warranty is only 1 -2 years. So in heavily infested areas like Hilo, homes may be invaded by the termites a few years later even though they had the original spraying. If you know anyone that has had this happen to them, I would like to hear about it. People need to educate themselves how to protect their home from termites. Beyond Pesticides, a National Coalition Against the Misuse of Pesticides has an excellent website. To learn what to do, go to the website.
Concerned residents are joining me now in forming a Pesticide Strategy Committee. We invite any one interested in joining our group to please contact me. Also if you missed my letter on pesticides in the Malama newsletter, I would be glad to email it to you.
Mahalo for your interest and help,
Mary Marvin Porter