Subterranean Termite Coptotermes formosanus in New Orleans French Quarter

USDA/ARS/Southern Regional Research Center, 1100 Robert E. Lee Boulevard, New Orleans, Louisiana 70179, USA 2Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, PO Box 25100 Baton Rouge, Louisiana 70894, USA

ABSTRACT The Formosan subterranean termite Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki is an invasive species estimated to cause annually USD 1000 million in damage in the USA including the costs of preventive and remedial treatments and structural repair. The termite is also known to infest living trees that line New Orleans' boulevards. Subsequent loss of these century-old trees is aesthetically unacceptable as their value is inestimable. Populations of the termite are estimated to have increased 35-fold in the French Quarter of New Orleans during the last decade of the 20th century. Traditional termite control practices used highly toxic chemicals that rapidly killed the insects, or were highly repellent to them. In both cases, such liquid chemical treatments surrounding a structure served to protect it but with no appreciable effect on the size of the termite population. Common wall construction and other unique architectural features in the French Quarter complicate traditional termite treatments using liquids. An area-wide treatment programme was initiated in 1998 using population-reducing strategies. The area-wide approach of treating all properties within 15 blocks of the French Quarter was designed to reduce infestations of structures through population suppression. The area-wide approach has since been extended to an additional 47 blocks. Populations in the original treatment area have been significantly reduced compared with surrounding areas not receiving area-wide management. Some impediments to the successful conduct of this area-wide termite management programme include: (1) common walls that make treatment difficult, (2) construction practices that provide ready access to termites, (3) ample moisture, and (4) failure to treat all structures on a property because of long-held industry practices. Improved detection and more thorough treatments by pest management professionals should lead to improved area-wide termite control.

KEY WORDS Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus, population management, area-wide termite management

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