Tree-Eating Termites Hit South.
Homeowners have long feared the native subterranean termite termite or white ant, common name for a soft-bodied social insect of the order Isoptera. Termites are easily distinguished from ants by comparison of the base of the abdomen, which is broadly joined to the thorax in termites; in ants, there is . Now its hungrier cousins are eating their way through thousands of southern trees.
The Formosan termite (Coptotermes formosanus) has attacked trees in 11 coastal states, including North Carolina North Carolina, state in the SE United States. It is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean (E), South Carolina and Georgia (S), Tennessee (W), and Virginia (N). Facts and Figures
Area, 52,586 sq mi (136,198 sq km). Pop. , California, and Texas, as well as Hawaii. But the worst case may be Louisiana, where termites have infested in·fest
tr.v. in·fest·ed, in·fest·ing, in·fests
1. To inhabit or overrun in numbers or quantities large enough to be harmful, threatening, or obnoxious: an estimated 20 to 25 percent of the city's trees, according to the USDA USDA,
n.pr See United States Department of Agriculture. 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 The Formosan subterranean termite (Coptotermes formosanus) is an invasive species of termite. It has been transported worldwide from its native range in southern China to Formosa (Taiwan, where it gets its name) and Japan. Research Unit. "It's a very serious problem. It strikes fear into the hearts of homeowners in areas with a termite infestation infestation /in·fes·ta·tion/ (-fes-ta´shun) parasitic attack or subsistence on the skin and/or its appendages, as by insects, mites, or ticks; sometimes used to denote parasitic invasion of the organs and tissues, as by helminths. ."
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.