Magazine article American Forests

Termite Trouble

Magazine article American Forests

Termite Trouble

Article excerpt

In Texas, a recent investigation of coastal trees felled by Hurricane Rita suggests that upwards of 40 percent of large trees marked for landfills were infested with Formosan subterranean termite.

These particular termites, accidentally introduced to the U.S. from Asia sometime after World War II, are found in the southern Gulf Coast states, southern California, and Hawaii, where it is the state's premier pest. The termites have become a serious threat both to structures and living trees. In New Orleans, the termites infest an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the city's trees; annual control estimates exceed $100 million.

Often it takes a natural disaster--like a hurricane or tornado--to allow officials to understand the amount of internal damage the Formosan termites have inflicted on trees, consuming large amounts of their heartwood and weakening their structural integrity.

Federal programs such as Operation Full Stop in New Orleans are attempting to develop area-wide management programs for the termites, but legal and legislative measures are needed. …

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