Where Are Formosan Termites Most Frequently Found Within French Quarter Homes?

The eastern subterranean termite, which inhabits the eastern half of the US and much of the west, is the most economically damaging pest species in the United States, as their destructive activity accounts for a majority of the annual termite damage costs in the US. These termites were the most common pests of timber framed structures before the Formosan subterranean termite established an invasive habitat in urban and suburban areas in New Orleans over 30 years ago. Today, the native eastern subterranean termite is the second most destructive pest species in Louisiana, and the Formosan termite has spread to all areas of the state and beyond.

Surprisingly, Formosan subterranean termite damage became more costly than native subterranean termite damage in Louisiana back when Formosans could only be found in New Orleans. This is due to several factors, including the wide range of damage that only Formosans are capable of causing. Back in 1993, Formosan termites gnawed on underground cables, resulting in an area-wide power outage that saw several hospitals lose power for hours. Five years later, Formosan damage to power cables caused the entire Frech Quarter to lose power. By 1993, less than a decade after Formosans emerged in great abundance, the damage they caused to telephone cables cost nearly half a million dollars in New Orleans alone. No other termite species in the US is capable of inflicting damage to power cables, and this is only one example of the extraordinary damage that these invasive pests inflict in the southeastern US.

Structures in the French Quarter are particularly vulnerable to termite damage, particularly Formosan termite damage. This is because antiquated structures in the French Quarter were not designed to resist termite attacks. The most common structural vulnerabilities include brick and mortar walls that have degraded with the passage of time, structural and cosmetic wood contact with the ground soil, the prevalence of wood floors, and the use of untreated structural lumber when structures were being built in the historic neighborhood.

Do you reside in a relatively old home that features structural designs that are vulnerable to termite attacks?



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