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Archive for the ‘Pest Control’ Category

How The Formosan Subterranean Termite Caused A Lasting Economic Catastrophe That Is Still Being Felt In New Orleans Today

Termites are one of the most economically significant group of insect pests in the United States where they inflict billions of dollars in property damage annually. The negative economic impact of termite infestations is not just felt by owners of infested homes. For example, destructive termite infestations have a negative financial effect on home-builders, real estate agents, bankers, mortgage companies, and home insurance companies.

Unsurprisingly, the widespread emergence of Formosan subterranean termites during the 1980s and 1990s in New Orleans triggered an economic crisis that still affects the city to this day. Also, Formosan termites are no longer limited to the southern coast of Louisiana, as pest control companies frequently encounter the pests in homes throughout the state.

Formosan termites cost taxpayers in Louisiana hundreds of millions of dollars annually due to the destruction that the pests inflict on infrastructure in the state. The termite pests eat away at creosote-treated railroad ties, telephone poles, underground cables, electric power lines and telephone lines, PVC pipes, and 90 percent of an old creosote-treated wooden saltwater dam in Lake Charles had to be replaced due to extensive Formosan termite damage.

Shortly after Formosan termites established a heavy presence in New Orleans, structural damage inflicted by the pests caused a house in the city to literally split in two, and a 17 year old apartment complex had to be demolished as a result of sustaining extensive Formosan termite damage. Several homes in New Orleans have been demolished due to Formosan termite infestations, resulting in loan defaults and an inability to secure additional loans for damage repairs.

Sadly, this is still occurring today in the city, as a 2016 house collapse in New Orleans was blamed on a long lasting Formosan termite infestation, and one year later, the destructive insect pests caused a building in Algiers to collapse. In order to prevent these abundant termite pests from infesting homes, annual property inspections and the application of termiticide barriers is necessary.

Have you had your home inspected for termites lately?

 

 

An Unearthed Formosan Termite Nest Was Found To Span An Acre And A Half Of Land After Aging Only 10 Years

Due to its widespread distribution in the US, the native eastern subterranean termite (EST) inflicts more annual property damage than any other termite species in the country. The invasive Formosan subterranean termite’s (FST) habitat, on the other hand, is largely limited to the Gulf Coast states, particularly eastern Texas, the entirety of Louisiana, and Florida.

Since the FST inhabits relatively small areas in the US, this species naturally does not cause as much annual property damage in the country as more widespread native species. However, the FST is easily the dominant termite in every local region where it can be found. For example, Louisiana is home to eight highly destructive termite species, but the non-native FST is easily the most devastating species throughout the state, especially in southern cities, like New Orleans, Lafayette and Baton Rouge.

Although figures vary, the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center states that FSTs cause 500 million dollars in property damage each year in Louisiana alone, and despite being absent from most states, FSTs cause at least 1 billion dollars in property damage each year nationwide.

The maximum size of an EST colony rarely exceeds 1 million individuals, but mature FST colonies contain ten times this amount, at least. In addition to their large colonies, FSTs outshine all other termites in the country by locating food more rapidly and tunneling through soil at higher speeds and over greater distances.

An unearthed network of foraging galleries surrounding one single FST nest in Louisiana was found to span 1.4 acres, and the total length of the galleries were measures at 1,900 feet. The depth of the foraging galleries generally varied between 5 and 117 cm below the ground, but some areas saw galleries dip as far as 3 meters. The primary nest was found 48 cm below the ground, and the nest itself was 53 cm wide and 48 cm high.

Have you ever become annoyed with FST swarming around your porch or indoor lights?

 

Disease-Spreading Green Bottle Flies Infest Homes More Often Than House Flies, And They Pose A Serious Disease Threat To Humans

Several species of blow flies are common pests throughout the US, and their habit of congregating onto pathogen rich decaying materials, most notably animal carcasses, makes the pests capable of spreading diseases to humans. Numerous flies congregate on filthy materials, like garbage, feces and rotting food, for feeding and reproductive purposes. Flies lay eggs in decaying organic materials in order to provide developing larvae with a nourishing environment upon hatching. Blow flies prefer to feed and lay eggs on decaying animal bodies, and they congregate in landfills, dumpsters and residential garbage bins for the same purpose.

Unfortunately, several blow fly species are known for infesting homes, especially homes located near slaughterhouses, meat processing plants and landfills. Two groups of blow fly pests, greenbottle and bluebottle flies, freely invade homes regularly no matter the location, as they are able to disperse over unusually long distances compared to other fly pests. The most common blow fly house pest in Louisiana, Phaenicia (Lucilia) sericata, breeds and feeds on dead mice, rats and other animal carcasses in wall voids, crawl spaces, attics, behind appliances and storage areas. This species is frequently referred to as the common green bottle fly, and it establishes infestations within homes more often than house flies.

In addition to animal carcasses, the common green bottle fly feeds and lays eggs on indoor food sources, such as meats, fruits, and vegetables. This causes food within infested homes to become smeared with a variety of disease-causing microorganisms, making blow flies among the most dangerous of indoor insect pests. Keeping meat and fish away from blow flies is particularly important, as eggs and larvae are most numerous on these foods. Eating food containing blow fly eggs and larvae will cause serious gastric and enteric illness, such as E. coli, rotavirus and shigella. Blow flies are larger than house flies and they can be recognized for their metallic green-colored bodies, fast flying speed, and loud buzzing.

Have you ever eaten food despite seeing a fly crawling on it?

Louisiana Homes And Buildings That Have Not Been Pre-Treated For Subterranean Termite Pests Have An 80% To 100% Chance Of Becoming Infested

Nearly a dozen species of termite pest have been found in Louisiana, but eight economically significant species, including the invasive Formosan subterranean termite, maintain a permanent habitat in the state. While the Formosan is the most economically damaging termite species in Louisiana, the native eatern, dark southern and light southern subterranean termites also inflict a significant amount of property damage throughout the state. There exists an equal amount of destructive drywood and subterranean termite species in Louisiana, but the latter group is responsible for around 95 percent of all termite related property damage reported each year in the state.

The southeast sees the highest rate of termite related property destruction in the US, and much of this destruction occurs in Louisiana, particularly in New Orleans. However, perimeter termiticide treatments are popular in the southeast where they are highly effective at preventing subterranean termite infestations in homes and buildings. According to experts, 80 to 100 percent of southeastern homes that have not been treated with a termiticide or another type of effective barrier will become infested with termites at some point.

Subterranean termites are most active in humid and rainy regions where soil is particularly moist throughout the year. In addition to providing nourishment to subterranean termites, moist soil allows workers to forage over particularly long distances, making it likely for the pests to encounter timber-framed structures. The liberal application of termiticide solution applied beneath the ground surrounding a home prevent subterranean termites from accessing properties. Physical termite barriers are applied to properties far less often than termiticide barriers in the US, but several types of physical barriers, such as steel-mesh, and particle barriers are also highly effective non-chemical methods of preventative termite control.

While subterranean termites can chew through a variety of durable materials in order to reach wood, including concrete, the pests are not able to penetrate steel-mesh. Particle termite barriers may consist of sand, gravel or synthetic material that is applied beneath the ground surrounding homes. Subterranean termites cannot pass through these barriers due to their inability to negotiate the relatively large size of the particles.

Have you ever known someone who had a physical termite barrier applied to their property?

Why Homes In Louisiana Frequently Become Infested By A Particularly Destructive Wood-Destroying Insect Pest, And Which Indoor Areas See The Most Damage?

There exists numerous insect groups in the US that inflict costly damage to structural and finished wood sources, including termites, powderpost beetles, carpenter bees, carpenter ants, and oldhouse borers. Initially, only one beetle species, hylotrupes bajulus, was known as an oldhouse borer. This species was the first wood-infesting beetle species in the Anobiidae family to become well studied in the US after it was transported to New England from Europe during the early colonial era. Today, several Anobiid beetles that bore into structural wood have been described in the country, many of which have also become known as oldhouse borers. Oldhouse borers are economically significant insect pests, as larvae bore into, and tunnel within structural wood in homes.

Some oldhouse borer species only infest single lumber items kept in storage as opposed to lumber in homes. These species develop as larvae within infested lumber items for as long as ten years before they emerge post-construction as winged adults. All other oldhouse borer species see female adults place their tiny eggs into the extremely narrow cracks and crevices on the surface of structural wood. After larvae hatch, they hollow out nesting cavities within the infested wood where they may develop for a period lasting from 3 to 10 years. Hylotrupes bajulus is the most well known oldhouse borer species, and they can be found throughout the eastern US, as well as a few western states, but they are most abundant in the mid-Atlantic region. In Louisiana, and other southeastern states, Xyletinus peltatus is the most frequently collected wood-boring Anobiid beetle species.

Xyletinus peltatus adults are active during April through September when they mate, lay eggs and larvae establish infestations in structural wood. Like subterranean termites, this oldhouse borer species requires high moisture environments to survive, making crawl spaces the most common area where winged adults mate and lay eggs. Naturally, the structural wood components most frequently damaged by larvae include subfloor lumber, cellar joists and support structures, resulting in costly damage. Unfortunately, oldhouse borer infestations are particularly common in southern Louisiana due to the abundance of old crawl spaces in homes where high humidity levels allow these beetle pests to thrive.

Have you ever suspected your home of being infested with wood-boring insect pests?

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