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Operation Full Stop 2002: Reduction in Termite Numbers Signals Success

By Amy Spillman
July 9, 2002

Operation Full Stop is significantly reducing the number of Formosan subterranean termites in the French Quarter of New Orleans, according to Agricultural Research Service scientists involved in the program. This success brings the program one step closer to its ultimate goal of shrinking the U.S. Formosan population to manageable levels.

Formosan termites were accidentally introduced into the continental United States more than 50 years ago and now cost consumers more than $1 billion per year in control and repair costs.

Operation Full Stop began in 1998, when 15 blocks of New Orleans' historic French Quarter were chosen as a demonstration control area to test nonrepellent termiticides and baits. Since 1998, ARS researchers at the Southern Regional Research Center (SRRC) in New Orleans and the Louisiana State University (LSU) Agricultural Center have been trapping termite alates on sticky cardboard traps inside and outside of the control area. Alates are the winged, reproductive form of the termite. Formosan alates typically swarm in New Orleans from April to July.

In 2000 and 2001, 50 percent fewer alates were trapped in the treated area than had been trapped in the same area during the previous two years, according to Frank Guillot, ARS' Formosan Subterranean Termite National Coordinator. And trapping results from the first half of the 2002 swarming season indicate that the alates' numbers are continuing to decline in the treated area.

Guillot emphasizes that in areas of severe Formosan termite infestation, it is important that all structures receive control treatments. This year, Operation Full Stop expanded from 15 to 30 blocks in the French Quarter, and researchers are now looking at expanding it again to include the entire historic district. If successful, the project may serve as a model for Formosan termite control throughout the Gulf Coast.

Operation Full Stop, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is a cooperative effort that includes experts from SRRC, the LSU Agricultural Center and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board, among others.

ARS is USDA's chief scientific research agency.