The Obscure Termite Related Laws That Some American Citizens May Not Know They Are Breaking

There exists numerous types of invasive insects that dwell within the United States, but invasive termites are by far the most costly and damaging of all of America’s invasive pests. Formosan subterranean termites established an invasive presence in the southeast US 50 to 60 years ago, and since then, no pest eradication program has successfully removed them from an area where they have become established. During the past 30 years, New Orleans has become well populated with Formosan termites due to the city’s hospitable climatic conditions. However, long before Formosan termites gained access to the continental US, officials in the state of Hawaii considered Formosan termites to be the single most economically important insect pest in the state. Due to the massive Formosan termite population that has come to exist in Hawaii and the southeast US, several laws have been passed that aim to control the spread of this pest within these states. Most of these laws are directed toward pest control operators, but private citizens are also expected to follow certain laws that are meant to prevent the spread of both native and invasive termites within the US and elsewhere.

Formosan subterranean termites were first discovered in Hawaii in 1919, and they cause an estimated 100 million dollars in structural damages each year. Nearly one half of all homes in Hawaii are currently infested with termites. These high termite infestation rates have led to the construction of steel-framed houses in the state. Only certain types of treated wood can be used for home construction in the state, and already existing homes require a legally binding pest inspection report to be furnished to the buyer. In the state of Mississippi, where termite species are relatively abundant and diverse, if one single homeowner discovers that his/her property is infested with termites, then all other homeowners in that county are legally forbidden from transporting wooden materials beyond the county line. Southeastern states have relatively strict laws concerning the interstate transport of wooden materials due to the high termite populations in the region. For example, in Louisiana, termite-infested wood cannot be moved until it is inspected by a termite inspector. Before suspicious wood materials are to be inspected, Louisiana residents must store the wood within trash bags and preferably within well-enclosed structures, like a garage or cellar. Once the wood is given a certificate of approval by an inspector, the wood must be transported to the proper waste management facility. A representative with the state’s housing agency guides residents through this process. In the past, the US Secretary of Agriculture had ordered quarantines on all forms of dirt and plant matter within Hawaii, Louisiana and the territories of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands in an effort to prevent the further spread of invasive termites within these materials. These quarantines were ordered at a time when invasive termites had been spreading to new locations around the world

Have you ever suspected a termite presence within lawn waste that you had gathered?

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