Submitted to: Journal of Economic Entomology
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/26/2008
Publication Date: 8/1/2008
Citation: Osbrink, W.L., Cornelius, M.L., Lax, A.R. 2008. Effects of Flooding on Field Populations of Formosan Subterranean Termites, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae), in New Orleans, LA. Journal of Economic Entomology 101: 1367-1372.
Interpretive Summary: The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki) is the most destructive termite where it occurs. Chemical control strategies have failed to protect structures from this termite, resulting in many millions of dollars of structural damage. Hurricane Katrina flooded many areas of New Orleans, LA, for several weeks. Since it has been suggested that flooding eliminates termites, the actual status of termites must be evaluated. It was demonstrated that Formosan termites near flooded pine trees and buildings were greatly reduced and sometimes eliminated. Termites near oak trees and in areas where flooding was minimal did not reduce termite populations. Subterranean termites cost Americans more than a billion dollars a year over most of the continental United States and Hawaii. Our discovery in how colonies respond to flooding has improved our ability to find and control termites by providing survival information indicating where, live termites are located.
Technical Abstract: Periodic sampling of independent monitors, initially active with the Formosan subterranean termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki, was conducted to evaluate the effects of long term flooding on termite populations. Monitors were located adjacent to buildings and in urban forests. Significant population reductions occurred in areas that flooded 2-3 weeks with brackish water, with termite populations associated with pine trees and buildings slower to recover that populations associated with oak trees. Alate production in flooded areas showed no reduction from previous years.