Formosan termites from New Orleans wood waste
Formosan Subterranean termites
were introduced into the greater New Orleans area, as well as
several other coastal towns, after World War II. By the time they
were identified in 1966, they had already become well established
in areas throughout New Orleans and Lake Charles.
Eleven states have reported colonies
of Formosan termites: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,
Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee,
and Texas. It is possible that their spread will be restricted
to southern areas because their eggs are not supposed to hatch
below 68° F.
There has been much interest
in Formosan termites after an article on the Internet claimed
that Formosan termites could be in mulch purchased from suppliers
that used wood waste from the New Orleans area. Rumor had it that
trees destroyed in New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina could be infested
with Formosan termites and would be chipped into mulch and shipped
across the country, spreading Formosan termites.
The Louisiana Department of Agriculture
and Forestry put in place strict quarantines in October 2005 which
forbid hurricane-impacted areas in Louisiana to transport mulch,
wood, or any other kind of wood waste outside their area. The
material is being put into landfills. There are warnings and quarantines
against moving building materials from damaged homes for use in
other structures or areas.
Of special concern are architectural
components such as beams, doors and salvaged lumber and lumber
taken from damaged buildings and stored on the ground where it
can become termite-infested. Railroad ties and landscape timbers
installed on the ground are similarly a potential problem, and
have a far greater and better documented risk of moving termites.
It is highly unlikely that termites
and their colonies would survive the mulching, chipping process.
If anyone is chipping, bagging
and selling mulch from southern Louisiana, it is being done illegally.