‘Jamaica is termite country’
Homeowners are reportedly forking out thousands of dollars in furniture repairs and for termite eradication as they shirk pretreatment activities, especially prior to building or expanding their homes.
Pretreating for termites is a best practice for large-scale housing developers. However, building maintenance professionals say once homes are turned over, most owners neglect pest control as part of maintenance. The situation is worse in older homes erected decades ago.
“It is not something that we (Jamaicans) practise. To maintain a house, there are certain things that you need to do on an annual or three-to-five-year basis. Termite control is on a five-year basis. Persons live in town for more than 20 years and have never done any treatment,” said Raam Naraysingh, property manager at Caymanas Estate in St Andrew.
Built by New Era Homes 2000 Limited, Caymanas Estates, a gated community, was opened in 2013. Naraysingh said homeowners at that time were given a five-year termite-free warranty.
However, that warranty has expired, and some residents have complained about termites eating away at their cabinets and other furniture.
“When New Era did their thing, it is roughly five years it is supposed to last, and then after that, the owners have to do follow-up treatments. So now they have to do their own thing,” he said, noting that not all residents will be able to carry out treatments at once.
“Termites are just like ants; you can set up a barrier for only so long. It would be wise that everybody does it (treat) at one time. But how are you going to tell a man who doesn’t have the money that he needs to do it,” he said.
Termite treatment costs may range from $40,000 for a two-bedroom apartment to well over $100,000 for a large home.
Debbie Dewar, operator of Terminex Pest Control, described termites as the most common household pests affecting almost all Jamaican communities. Rats, ants and roaches complete the list, she said.
According to Dewar, droves of Jamaicans dole out thousands each year for the treatment of subterranean parasites, one of three main types of pests found commonly in Jamaican homes.
“Subterranean termites are the ones that live around the buildings and the ones most persons have a problem with,” she said, listing also dry-wood termites and damp wood termites, or ‘duck ants’, as variants.
She said subterranean termites live underground and in the walls, and thus their treatment often involves drilling holes into tiles and painted partitions in order to reach them. Some homeowners cringe at damaging their buildings, especially after recent upgrades.
“People, because of ignorance or because of cost, tend not to do their preconstruction treatment. That is usually not a part of the budget. But it spells sense to do your preconstruction treatment so at least you won’t have the problem of dealing with termites after you have completed the structure,” added Dewar, noting that land that was formerly under cane cultivation, or other heavy vegetation, tends to be more prone to termite infestation.
“On a whole, Jamaica is termite country… Rather than wait until your house is infested, it is better to address the problem from early,” she said, noting that the cost of treatment is dependent on property size and extent of the infestation.
Representatives from the Portmore Municipal Corporation and the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation (KSAMC) last week described pretreatment for termites as important prior to building.
Robert Hill, town clerk at the KSAMC, said, “It is recommended on inspection by our building officers.” He could not say, however, how many homeowners comply with the recommendation for new homes.
In the meantime, Colin Fagan, member of parliament for St Catherine South Eastern, and a homeowner in Portmore – residents of which complained to t he Sunday Gleaner of termite infestations last week – said termites are no more prominent in Portmore than the rest of the island.
“Termites are there. Termites are in Edgewater. I mean, those houses have been there from the 1970s. But I don’t think that termites are there more than anywhere else,” he said, explaining in past years, he has had to carry out extensive termite treatment at his Edgewater property, similar to work he has done at another property in Trelawny.
‘Rather than wait until your house is infested, it is better to address the problem from early.’