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Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

Why Did It Take Local Leaders And Urban Entomologists Decades To Gain Adequate Control Over The Invasive Formosan Subterranean Termite In New Orleans?

Termites are the most economically costly pests of homes and buildings in the US, as they inflict billions of dollars in structural wood damage each year in the country. The most destructive termite pest in the country is easily the eastern subterranean termite (Reticulitermes flavipes), as this species is far more widespread than all other termite pest species in the US. Louisiana is one of the very few, or possibly the only US state where most termite-related destruction is committed by an invasive termite species. This invasive termite pest is commonly known as the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formanosus), and it emerged in large numbers in New Orleans during the early 1980s. Since then, the Formosan subterranean termite has devastated structures and oak trees in New Orleans, and they have spread to the rest of the state. Considering that the FST was first discovered in New Orleans and other areas along the Gulf Coast during the 1960s, many people wonder why local leaders, urban entomologists and pest control professionals were not better prepared to manage this notably destructive pest once they emerged in New Orleans 20 years later.

Although the FST was first discovered in the US during the mid-1960s when colonies were recovered near shipping ports in Houston, Galveston and New Orleans, experts agree that the termite pests arrived in the country 20 years earlier within infested crates, shipping materials and wooden pallets that were unloaded from ships returning from Asia at the end of World War Two. These infested wooden materials quickly found their way into landfills where they were buried deep beneath the ground. The moist landfill soil allowed FSTs to proliferate, but it likely took the pests several years to travel from urban landfills to urban New Orleans. While reproductive swarmers (alates) from FST colonies would have been noticed before colonies arrived in New Orleans, experts likely mistook large FST alates for similar looking alates of native drywood termite species. Shortly after FST pests became noticeably prevalent in New Orleans, the leading termiticide at the time, chlordane, was discontinued by the EPA, which allowed FSTs to wreak even more havoc during the 1980s. By the 1990s, FST infestations were causing 300 million dollars in damages annually in New Orleans alone. Due to years of FST research conducted in New Orleans, pest control professionals eventually managed to gain an adequate degree of control over FST pest activity in the city.

Have you ever witnessed a swarm of Formosan subterranean termites emerge from a nest?



2020 St. Jude Dream Home Giveaway Interview

The Most Cockroach Infested City

The United States is home to at least 70 native and non-native cockroach species, at least a dozen of which are known pests of homes and buildings. In the US, both pest and non-pest cockroaches are most prevalent and species-diverse in the southern states, particularly in the southeast where mild winters, frequent rainfall, and excessive humidity provide cockroaches with an ideal habitat. Four cockroach pest species can be found in all 48 states of the contiguous US. These species are commonly known as American cockroaches (Periplaneta americana), German cockroaches (Blattella germanica), Oriental cockroaches (Blatta orientalis), and brown-banded cockroaches (Supella longipalpa). The German cockroach is the most commonly controlled roach pest within homes throughout the country, and along with the brown-banded cockroach, the German cockroach is one of the few insect pest species that dwells solely indoors. In addition to the four above mentioned cockroach pest species, smokybrown cockroaches and Australian cockroaches are very common indoor pests in southern Louisiana.

A few years ago, the American Housing Survey revealed New Orleans to be the most cockroach-infested city in the nation. This put the Big Easy ahead of other cities that are notorious for having healthy roach pest populations including Houston, Atlanta and Miami. While visiting northern areas where cockroaches are less problematic, Louisiana residents are often asked about the cockroach situation in their state. Northerners are always surprised to hear how frequently Louisiana residents witness cockroaches flying. One New Orleans resident, Ann Butcher, described an incident in which she screamed in response to finding a cluster of roaches in her kitchen. For the brief moment she opened her mouth to scream, one of the roaches literally flew into her mouth. Since then, Butcher has learned to scream with her mouth closed upon finding creepy-crawlies in her home.

With the exception of the German cockroach, the large sized American and smokybrown cockroach species are the two most frequently encountered roach pests both indoors and outdoors in Louisiana. American and smokybrown cockroaches both fly in response to high-moisture conditions, and the latter frequently flies toward porches, patios, and into homes due to their attraction to white light. American cockroaches are particularly filthy due to their commonality in sewer systems, and adults of this species range from 1 ¼ to a bit more than 2 inches in body length, making them slightly larger than smokybrown cockroaches.

Have you ever witnessed a cockroach fly into your home?

Exotic Species Of Ambrosia Beetle Is Rapidly Spreading Throughout The US Where They Are Frequently Found Boring Holes Into Gasoline Tanks And Fuel Lines Of All Types Of Vehicles

The insect pests commonly known as ambrosia beetles are exceptionally small organisms that excavate tunnels within firewood, lumber, trees and other woody plants. These pests mainly target trees that are dead or dying, but many species bore into healthy trees and woody ornamental plants, killing them. Ambrosia beetles bore into trees in order to cultivate and farm fungal organisms that they rely on as their primary food source. The tree and plant species that these beetles select as their hosts varies from species-to-species.

Ambrosia beetles are most problematic in the southeast where the high relative humidity is required to induce fungal growth in trees. As destructive plant pests, native ambrosia beetles are not nearly as aggressive as the 45 non-native species that have become established in the country, five of which are considered serious pests. The granulate ambrosia beetle (Xylosandrus crassiusculus) is the most destructive pest of its kind in the southeast, but the most recently introduced exotic ambrosia beetle pest, the camphor shoot borer (Cnestus mutilatus), inflicts significant damage to gas tanks, fuel lines, and gas storage containers, sometimes resulting in the destruction of vehicle engines.

The camphor shoot borer (CSB) was first discovered in the US in either 1999 or 2004 when specimens were recovered from infested trees in Mississippi. Not long afterward, these pests were found in Louisiana, and they are currently expanding their habitat range in the country at an unusually rapid pace. While adult CSBs are only between 2.5 and 4 mm in length, they are the largest of all of North America’s ambrosia beetle species. In the southeast, these beetles are most active between March and September, with peak activity occurring during the spring and early summer.

In order to locate tree hosts that can produce fungi, CSBs possess specialized sensory organs that allow them to detect ethanol produced by fermenting wood. However, since standard gasoline fuel contains 10 percent alcohol, these beetle pests mistake any container holding gasoline for fermenting wood. Because of this, CSBs have been found boring holes into gasoline containers, fuel lines, and especially, gasoline tanks on lawnmowers.

Two years ago, a group of sea faring scientists wound up stranded far from the Gulf Coast due to a fuel leak caused by CSBs boring into the boat’s fuel line. Hundreds of CSB specimens frequently inflict extensive damage to gas containers stored in sheds, resulting in ecologically harmful leaks, and pest control professionals often address CSB damage to riding lawn mowers. When CSB damage to gas tanks and gas containers was first discovered in the US, entomologists were perplexed and fascinated. Today, the first object known to have sustained damage from these CSBs in the US is a gas container that can now be seen in the Louisiana State Insect Museum.

Have you encountered any form of damage inflicted by CSBs?

Southern Louisiana Is Being Invaded By Exotic Slender Twig Ants That Inflict Extremely Painful Stings And Often Nest Within Homes And Buildings

The slender twig ant (Pseudomyrmex gracilis) is a non-native ant species that has become prevalent in the southern half of the Gulf Coast states where it is considered a pest in urban and suburban areas. This ant species establishes nests in tiny cavities within plants and trees on the ground and at elevated locations. Nests are most frequently found within hollow twigs, branches, plant stems, grass blades, in wood cavities that had been previously excavated by carpenter ants and termites, and in crevices and door frames in homes and buildings.

Slender twig ants (STA) live in small single-queen colonies, and they feed on insects, fungal spores, and tend aphids for sweet-tasting honeydew. These ants are highly protective of their plant hosts, and workers will not hesitate to emerge from their nest to attack humans en masse if the ants perceive a threat to the plants that they inhabit. The stings inflicted by these ants are extremely painful, and nests located in high-traffic areas like door frames should be promptly destroyed for this reason.

Although the STA was first recorded in the US back in 1960 when colonies were recovered from the coast of southern Florida, this species has only recently established a sizable population in New Orleans and Houston. STAs are not well understood by urban entomologists and the species demonstrates a variety of peculiar habits that are not characteristic of social insects, such as workers not following fixed foraging trails. This makes it virtually impossible for STA nests to be pinpointed, and there currently does not exist any specific program for STA control. At the moment, the STA’s status as an invasive species in the US is still uncertain, but this species’ status as a medically significant nuisance pest of structures and urban and suburban landscapes is well established. STA workers are easy to recognize due to their noticeably large and elongated body that is brownish-orange in color.

Have you ever encountered an ant nest within your home?






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