Can Formosan Termites Destroy Power Lines?

Can Formosan Termites Destroy Power Lines?Formosan Termites

There are some isolated cases of power-lines that have been damaged by termites. However, in regions of the United States where Formosan termites thrive, power line repairmen are always ready for the Formosan termites’ shenanigans. Formosan termites in the US are not as numerous as eastern subterranean termites, but Formosans can succeed in chewing through even the most durable types of materials. And this includes not only the insulation on power lines, but also the metallic wiring located within. In fact, Formosan termites can cause damage to numerous types of infrastructure.

In Louisiana, where Formosan termites are common, these termites have been found chewing through chemically treated utility poles, electrical vaults made from concrete, lime brick mortar, traffic control switch boxes, copper, lead, and high-pressure water lines, just to name a few. One of the most annoying forms of termite damage involves their odd determination to chew through the toughest of materials in order to eventually reach electric power cables. And these power cables were by not carrying weak electrical impulses.

For example, termites managed to chew through power cables that were carrying fifteen to twenty four thousand volts of electricity. These power cables were located beneath the French Quarter and Central Business District in New Orleans, Louisiana. In order for these termites to have reached the wire within the power lines, they had to chew through plastic, rubber and lead. Only after the Formosans managed this surprising feat, they chewed the copper wiring. Water eventually flooded the termite-damaged cables, and an explosion resulted.

The city energy officials in New Orleans, could not prove that Formosans were responsible for the damage since everything in the area had been incinerated. But they believe the termites were the culprits for several reasons. These suspicions are due the fact that more than half of all the blowouts that occur in the city show signs of nearby termite activity. Formosans are often seen scurrying into nearby manholes following underground power-cable blowouts. Also, Formosan mud trails are often found on power-cables. Discovering such evidence must have been, well….shocking!

Do you believe that only the Formosan variety of termite could cause such extensive damage to power lines by virtue of their more powerful mouthparts? Is there something about Formosan termites that makes them withstand chemicals that would otherwise kill non-Formosan termites?


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