Have Government-Run Termite Control Operations In Louisiana Been Effective?

Termites were causing destruction in the United States long before the invasive Formosan subterranean termite was introduced into the country. But now, Formosan termites are responsible for much of the annual $5 billion spent on termite control in the country. In the city of New Orleans alone, the Formosan termite causes at least $300 million in damage and repair costs each year. Although this termite species was first discovered in Texas during the 1960s and has since spread east all the way to Florida, South Carolina and possibly North Carolina, they cause the greatest degree of destruction within the state of Louisiana. Much of this destruction ends up seeing treasured historical buildings in the French Quarter demolished, as Formosan termite damage often renders homes irreparable.

Once the Formosan subterranean termite started causing costly destruction within New Orleans during the 1990s, the federal government enacted an expensive program, Operation Full Stop, to eradicate the invasive insects from the state. While this program lasted for 15 years, and many valuable things were learned about this species’ behaviors and how to control their infestations, the city still sees a tremendous degree of Formosan subterranean termite damage. In fact, many experts say that no colony of Formosan termites has ever been eradicated after becoming established in a non-native area.

Operation Full Stop aimed to eradicate existing Formosan termite infestations within New Orleans’ French Quarter and to prevent further infestations from occurring within the region. Although the researchers working on the project hoped to see one of the most historically significant districts in the United States saved from termite destruction, they were also interested in using the area as a site for testing new and innovative forms of pest control. Researchers placed underground monitoring systems beneath structures in the district and sticky fly-traps meant to trap swarming alates were an everyday sight in the district for several years.

During the program, one of the researchers involved claimed that Formosan termite populations had been reduced by 95 percent, unfortunately, the USDA did not agree with this figure, and even the areas that were infested eventually became reinfested. Today, those who live in the French Quarter consider termites and unfortunate reality, but promising new methods of Formosan subterranean termite control are on the horizon.

Do you think that the Formosan subterranean termite problem in New Orleans will soon improve?


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