Submitted to: IAEA-FAO Area Wide Insect Management Symposium Proceedings
Publication Type: Proceedings
Publication Acceptance Date: 4/28/2006
Publication Date: 4/28/2007
Citation: Lax, A.R., Guillot, F.S., Ring, D.R. 2007. Area-wide management of the Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus), in New Orleans' French Quarter. IAEA-FAO Area Wide Insect Management Symposium Proceedings pgs. 617-626.
Interpretive Summary: The Formosan subterranean termite is an invasive insect that causes over $1 billion dollars per year in damage to structures and trees. Traditional means of controlling this insect were to create a chemical barrier that prevented the termite from entering the structure, but causing the colony to find a nearby source of wood to infest. Recent treatment strategies using non-repellent liquid termite poisons or baits enabled reducing termite populations or elimination of entire colonies that provide structural protection through lowering the termite presence near the structure. We implemented a large area test in New Orleans’ French Quarter, using an area-wide management strategy to reduce termite damage using these offensive strategies applied to all structures within the treatment zone. Such treatments have reduced the termite population by fifty percent using two population estimates. Factors that appear to contribute to the residual population in the French Quarter are enumerated with recommendations to improve termite population reduction.
Technical Abstract: The Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (FST) is an invasive species estimated to cause US $1billion in damage including preventive and remedial treatments and structural repair. The termite also is known to infest living trees that line New Orleans' boulevards. Subsequent loss of these century-old trees is aesthetically unacceptable and the cost is inestimable. Populations of the termite are estimated to have increased 35-fold in the French Quarter during the last decade of the twentieth century. Traditional termite control practices used highly toxic chemicals that rapidly killed the insects, or were highly repellent to them. In both cases, such liquid chemical treatments surrounding a structure served to protect it but with no appreciable effect on the size of the termite population. Common wall construction and other unique architectural features in the French Quarter complicate traditional termite treatments using liquids. An area-wide treatment program was initiated in 1998 using population reducing strategies. The area-wide approach of treating all of the properties within 15 blocks of the French Quarter was designed to reduce infestations of structures through population suppression. The area-wide approach has since been extended an additional 47 blocks. Populations in the original treatment area have been significantly reduced compared with surrounding areas not receiving area-wide management. Some impediments to the successful conduct of this area-wide termite management program in the French Quarter include: 1) common walls that make treatment difficult, 2) construction practices providing ready access to termites, 3) ample moisture and 4) failure to treat all structures on a property. Improved detection and more thorough treatments by pest management professionals should lead to improved area-wide termite control.