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Archive for the ‘Termites’ Category

The Most To Least Abundant Termite Species In Louisiana, And Where In The State Each Species Can Be Found

Louisiana may not be the smallest state in terms of area, but it is not even close to being the largest either. According to an official list that ranks America’s 50 states by size in terms of area, Louisiana falls within the middle to lower half of the states at number 33. Despite Louisiana’s modest size, the state is home to an unusually high number of termite pest species. To be more specific, Louisiana contains more termite pest species than Texas, which is hard to believe considering that the area of Texas is seven times greater than that of Louisiana’s. Louisiana also beats its other neighbors, Mississippi and Arkansas, in terms of termite species diversity. Based on these comparisons, it can be inferred that populations of multiple termite species overlap in most areas within Louisiana. In other words, all residential and urban areas within Louisiana must see multiple termite species. Since termites operate below soil and beneath the surface of wood where they cannot be easily observed, estimating the population size of particular species within certain areas is not easy. However, shortly after the invasive Formosan subterranean termite species became an economically devastating insect pest in Louisiana, researchers carried out an exhaustive study that revealed which termite species are most abundant in the state, and where each species is most likely to be found.

There exists eight documented termite species that infest structures in Louisiana, the most significant of which include various subterranean and drywood species. According to a scientific survey lasting for three years during the late 90s and early 2000s, the eastern subterranean termite (R. flavipes) was found to be the most abundant termite species around homes and buildings in the state. This species was collected a total of 177 times in all areas of Louisiana, while the second most abundant species in the state, native subterranean termites (R. hageni), was collected a total of 65 times in all areas of the state. Another species that is commonly referred to as the “native subterranean termite” (R. virginicus) was collected 64 times in all areas of the state. The dreaded Formosan subterranean termite (C. formanosus) was collected 40 times, but almost never in areas farther north than Baton Rouge. However, researchers have confirmed that Formosan termite populations now cover the entirety of Louisiana, and this species likely follows only the eastern subterranean termite species in terms of population size in Louisiana today

Were you under the impression that the Formosan subterranean termite was the most abundant termite species in Louisiana?

 

 

Formosan Subterranean Termites Grow Larger Nests In Urban And Residential Areas Than They Do In The Wild

 

Formosan subterranean termites were first documented in Louisiana back in the 1960s, but their habitat was limited to uninhabited rural regions until the 1980s saw Formosans emerge in New Orleans. By the time the mid 1990s rolled around, Formosan subterranean termites had established colonies beneath sod, behind plaster and sheetrock, and even below paved urban areas. Residents of the Big Easy were well acquainted with termites by this time, but the destructive power of the Formosan subterranean termite was unlike anything that they ever could have imagined.

For the past 30 to 40 years, residents of New Orleans have had no choice but to tolerate the Formosan presence, as even today, colonies cannot be fully eradicated; instead, pest controllers can only control the insects by preventing their further spread into new inhabited regions. Effective Formosan termite control measures have only recently been developed, so the termites had more than enough time to spread to every inhabited region of Louisiana and beyond. Considering all this, entomologists and pest control professionals believe that Formosan termites are endowed with unique abilities that allow them to evade human control measures.

According to Louisiana State University entomologist Gregg Henderson, Formosan subterranean termites have defeated nearly all pest control strategies devised to far. Luckily, the introduction of poison baits have proven effective at limiting Formosan subterranean termite colony growth and dispersal, but experts are still have a lot to learn about how these termites spread so rapidly from one area to another. One theory states that numerous Formosan subterranean termite colonies are interconnected over large areas of land like a “supercolony” that can collectively coordinate their movements into new areas.

Once humans abandoned their nomadic ways and established cities containing clusters of timber-framed structures, far more wood became available to Formosan termites. This allowed Formosan termite populations to reach unprecedented levels that would have been impossible in natural environments. The advent of cities also allowed Formosan termite nests to become significantly larger, and more interconnected. It is also true that Formosan swarmers (alates) are attracted to artificial lights, like street lights and porch lights, which also serves to increase their population size in urban and residential areas.

Have you ever lived on a property that contained one or several trees that had been infested with Formosan subterranean termites?

 

Can Drywood Termites Spread To Multiple Pieces Of Lumber In A Home’s Timber Frame?

 

Of the three types of termites, subterranean drywood and dampwood, subterranean termites are easily the most damaging and economically costly of the three. With the exception of Alaska where termites do not exist, subterranean termites are the most abundant and damaging termite pests in each state. There are several reasons to explain why subterranean termites are the most damaging. For example, subterranean termite colonies, such as eastern subterranean termites, live within colonies containing thousands to millions of foraging workers. The invasive Formosan subterranean termite, which is abundant in all of Louisiana, can contain at least 50 million termite workers. Subterranean termites also maintain a widespread habitat below the ground, and interconnected termite colonies can cover several square miles of land, giving them easy access to timber-framed houses above. Drywood termites, on the other hand, live in colonies that only contain hundreds to thousands of workers, and unlike their subterranean counterparts, drywood termites are not soil dwellers; instead, they are only able to inhabit one wood item at a time. For example, drywood termite colonies dwell within wooden logs where they also feed, and new colonies are established elsewhere only when swarming alates emerge from a wood item. However, researchers have long wondered whether or not drywood termites can infest multiple pieces of lumber that make up a home’s timber frame.

According to researchers, multiple colonies of C. brevis, more commonly known as west Indian drywood termites, can infest one single wood item, or in this case, once single piece of lumber. Traditionally, it has been assumed that drywood termite colonies maintain a presence within single lumber pieces only, as infested lumber does not show exit holes where the termites may move to new lumber components of a timber frame. In an effort to determine whether or not these drywood termites can move to new pieces of lumber within a home’s timber frame,  researchers allowed drywood termites to infest a single wood component on a shipping pallet. The results showed that up to eight colonies can become established in a wood pallet, and most importantly, each colony could move from one piece of lumber to another by traveling through juncture points that cannot be observed by pest control inspectors. Therefore, drywood termites, contrary to popular belief, can spread throughout a home’s timber frame one piece of lumber at a time. This finding makes drywood termites a greater threat to a home’s structural integrity than previously thought.

Did you known that multiple drywood termite colonies could infested one single piece of wood?

 

Formosan Subterranean Termite Swarms Seem To Be Heavier And More Frequent Than Usual In Louisiana This Year

Many Americans know that termites infest a massive number of homes and buildings within the state of Louisiana, but many people living outside of the state are not aware of how much of a nuisance termite swarms can be within the state. There exists several termite pest species in Louisiana, most of which swarm during the spring and summer season, but some species swarm during the fall, and due to the state’s mild winter climate, termite swarms can occur all year round. Even during unusually cold winters in the state, termite swarms can emerge from heated homes and buildings where their colonies are active.

Witnessing a termite swarm within or near a home is troubling, as such swarms indicate a termite colony’s presence on a property, and massive swarms can also occur in populated urban areas where residents can find themselves in the thick of thousands of swarmers (alates). Formosan subterranean termites, which are highly abundant in Louisiana, are known to swarm in particularly large masses, and they are often described as looking like a large black cloud that can partially block sunshine.

This year, numerous Formosan termite swarms have occured since May 2nd in Louisiana, and the size and frequency of these swarms have been described as “overwhelming” by residents, but entomologists and pest control professionals in the state claim that there is nothing out of the ordinary about this year’s swarms.

Formosan subterranean termites typically begin swarming during early May in Louisiana, but this year’s high temperatures may be making these swarms more frequent than usual. May sees the largest Formosan termite swarms, and these swarms typically recur every eight to ten days until the end of the Formosan swarming season during mid to late June. Formosan swarms generally occur during dusk on windless and cloudy days. In many cases, swarms occur following bouts of rain, and the winged alates can travel as far as 300 feet from the nesting sites where they emerge. Unlike many termite species, Formosan swarmers gravitate toward artificial light sources in urban and residential areas, so keeping outdoor lights off during the dusk hours during May and June can help prevent swarmers from gravitating near your home.

Have you ever witnessed a termite swarm within a public building or business?

 

 

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The Emergence Of The Formosan Subterranean Termite Saw Dozens Of New Orleans School Buildings Succumb To Destructive Infestations

The Formosan subterranean termite was largely a non-issue within New Orleans until the early 1980s, and it was around this time when public schools in the city became infested with the extremely destructive pests. While homes and businesses all over the city were becoming infested with the alien pests, public schools in the city were found to contain the most extensive termite infestations that any pest controller in America had ever seen. In addition to the infestations, it was also found that dozens of schools had already sustained massive amounts of destruction. This destruction occurred rapidly, and it was clear that the typical termite control program in the city’s public schools was no longer working. In order to make all the schools safe to inhabit, officials planned to renovate and rebuild the heavily damaged and structurally outdated school buildings with termite-resistant construction materials. However, the degree of termite damage that the school buildings sustained was unprecedented, and the renovation costs were unaffordable. As you can imagine, this situation led to a city-wide crisis.

Back in 1997, the pest control manager for the New Orleans school system claimed that “dozens of schools were in danger of being lost” due to the damaging infestations. The seemingly sudden termite damage occurred due to several factors. For one thing, nearly all of the public schools in the city were constructed long before building codes demanded the inclusion of termite-resistant features. Many of the school buildings were constructed with lumber that made ground contact, allowing subterranean termites easy access to structural wood from their soil habitat. Thirsty Formosan termites were attracted to the moisture buildup and plumbing leaks that were found in every infested building. Previously installed termiticide barriers around the schools prevented native termite infestations, but not Formosans, as Formosans are able to establish nests in high places, like the top floor of a building and atop trees. For example, at Warren Easton High School Formosan subterranean termites were found eating the floor-joist on the building’s top floor. Repairing this damage cost taxpayers 250,000 dollars. In order to correct the situation, officials decided to make use of poison bait to stop the Formosan scourge, but the bait sites could not be installed until the buildings were renovated to meet modern anti-termite building codes, and until all high-moisture conditions were eliminated.

Have you ever suspected a building that you were in was infested with termites?

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