Every act of aloha counts. Click here to DONATE to the MAUI RELIEF Fund.            

Getting The Bugs Out

Benjamin Hoppe
Branch Manager of Terminix

Please tell us about your business. Terminix is a full-service pest control company. We take care of everything from termites and cockroaches to centipedes and ants. We also do exclusion work, where we seal off your house from new pests coming in, as well as repair damages. We offer services across the entire island.

Why do you do what you do? I always worked in the service industry. When I moved to Kauai, we needed the services in our own home. When you go through it and live through it, it makes it a lot more relevant to you. I thought it’d be a great company to work for to help other people protect their houses, because your home is the biggest investment you have.

What are the most prevalent pests on Kauai? The ground termite population right now has been increasing on the island, which is the most destructive to any home and causes the most damage. The average price to fix a home after ground termite infestation is about $18,000-$35,000.

Why is the ground termite population increasing? They arrived when a lot of the old cane fields brought in lumber for the plantation houses. They brought in termites from places around the world. They started increasing as the lumber would fall off of these old homes, and termites would get in and start populating more and more.

Also, the conditions on Kauai are awesome for ground termites — lots of moisture and dead foliage. They like to feed and break that down; they are nature’s little garbage disposals. They break everything down and make things better in nature — but they don’t stop at nature, and we keep putting more things down to eat and they’re enjoying that.

What are the different treatment options for termites? We do tenting for drywood termites that is a one-time treatment that kills off the group of termites in the structure. Ground termites scatter and go wherever they can, looking for opportunities to get into a house. So the treatment options we have for them are barrier treatments that try to prevent them from even getting into the house in the first place. We place bait stations every 10 feet in holes drilled in the ground outside of the home. They’re actually “green” (not too hard on the environment) and family friendly. They’ve been really good at eliminating an entire ground termite colony. Once a year, we come by and check them to see if there’s been any activity and make sure the rest of the house is OK.

Are there any ways to prevent drywood termite infestations? No. There is literally nothing you can do on this island that will prevent drywood termites from coming into your house.

However, you can prevent ground termites because they are more predictable. They are always in the ground foraging, and you can protect the base of your house.

Drywood termites, on the other hand, can fly in from anywhere, and it takes only 1/32-inch of a hole to get into your house. You can never seal your house 100 percent from drywood termites.

What sets your business apart from others? Our warranty. We actually don’t just treat your house. If you sign on with our services and you have damages (not pre-existing), we actually pay for the repairs of the damages. If you have a problem and the termites have eaten your house, we fix it and we don’t stop until you’re happy. You can renew the warranty every year.

What makes you get up every day and go to work? I’ve always had a lot of pride in just working hard. Coming to this branch and working together with everyone to create better employees and looking at them growing and becoming great at their jobs has been rewarding; watching my employees excel is what drives me.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing? Photographer for National Geographic.

2976 Aukele St., B-1, Lihue

—Coco Zickos