Tree-Eating Termites Hit South.
The Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus) has attacked trees in 11 coastal states, including North Carolina, California, and Texas, as well as Hawaii. But the worst case may be Louisiana, where termites have infested an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the city's trees, according to the USDA Agricultural Research Service and local officials.
"During the last hurricane, a group estimated our trees are worth around $700 million," said Ed Bordes, director of the city-funded New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board. "Not only are [the termites] eating the more susceptible trees, but they're eating our historic trees as well."
So far no tree has proved itself immune to the pest, said Alan R. Lax, research leader and microbiologist for ARS' Formosan Subterranean Termite Research Unit. "It's a very serious problem. It strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners in areas with a termite infestation."
The termite can chew through trees, plywood, and beams. Its most dangerous trait may be its large nests, which can grow up to 10 times larger than native subterranean termite colonies.
Formosan termites cost the southern states and Hawaii an estimated $1 billion each year in property damage, control measures, and repairs, ARS said. And with their numbers growing, they could spread further north, Lax warned.
City, state, and federal officials are working to halt the termites' march with millions of dollars for control and treatment programs.
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|Title Annotation:||Controlling a pest|
|Article Type:||Brief Article|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2000|
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