Formosan Termites Have Altered The Natural Beauty And Character Of New Orleans

Formosan Termites Have Altered The Natural Beauty And Character Of New Orleans

The city of New Orleans has a rich history. Many consider the most popular and festive Mardi Gras celebrations to be held in New Orleans. Over the long course of its existence, New Orleans has been home to many different ethnic groups. All of these ethnic groups have contributed to the city’s complex character. Some of the most intriguing figures in history have lived within the city. New Orleans even hosts tours of the city’s purported abundance of haunted houses and other notable locations. The city of New Orleans itself may as well be considered a historical landmark worth preserving. Sadly, for over seventy years, the city of New Orleans, and the entirety of the Gulf Coast region for that matter, have been infested with invasive Formosan termites. However, for several decades, many residents, as well as pest-control professionals, were unaware of the extent to which Formosan termites had been damaging the natural beauty of New Orleans.

Experts believe that Formosan termites invaded the port city during the 1950’s. It was not until long after the invasion of these termites that many of New Orleans’ most treasured and conspicuous forms of architecture became structurally compromised by these rapidly destructive insect pests. Termite control measures were quickly put to use in order to save the most historically significant manmade structures. Unfortunately, it was not until the mid to late 1990s that the majestic trees of the city began to fall apart as a result of decades of unnoticed termite damage. The termite ravaged trees would eventually, fall causing damage to vast amount of property. When the trees of New Orleans started to fall apart during the mid 1990’s, the director of the New Orleans Department of Parks and Pathways, Flo Schornstein, claimed that the trees “form the character of the city as much as the architecture does.”

Although homes could be tented and fumigated for termites, the rows of enormous old oak trees could not be so easily saved from the destruction caused by Formosan termites. Some of these trees are five to six hundred years old. At one point, a pest control van was crushed by a falling oak while it was parked on a street. The oaks were dying from termite infestations despite looking healthy on the outside. During the mid-nineties, The New York Times reported that one out of every seven trees in New Orleans had become infested with Formosan termites, while some experts insisted that the rate was closer to one in five trees infested. Hurricane Hugo of 1992 revealed the extent of the termite damage to the trees within New Orleans. The Hurricane’s strong winds caused many trees in New Orleans to blow over easily. This revealed the tree’s hollow interior that had been consumed by termites.

Why do you think termite home infestations were noticed long before tree infestations? Do you think termite damage to trees can lower property values?


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