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Hurricane-hardy termites!

Not even Katrina's violent winds and watery aftermath proved sufficient to vanquish New Orleans's most tenacious residents: its Formosan subterranean termites. At first, there was hope that their numbers might have been lessened by high waters and other havoc unleashed by the deadly storm in August 2005. But data gathered from 125 monitoring traps placed throughout City Park in 2002 has shown that 82 percent of the traps that were active before Katrina were still active just a month after the storm. Other kinds of surveillance showed a slightly lower survival rate among colonies--especially those associated with pine trees.

Efforts are under way to explain the termites' remarkable survival. One theory is that a natural sealant they produce from saliva, chewed wood, and feces--called "carton"--may help waterproof a colony's extensive underground nest and corridor network. Mary L. Cornelius and Weste L. Osbrink, USDA-ARS Formosan Subterranean Termite Research Unit, New Orleans, Louisiana; phone (504) 286-4449 [Cornelius], (504) 286-4593 [Osbrink], e-mail mcorneli@srrc.ars. usda.gov.osbrink@srrc.ars.usda.gov.
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Title Annotation:Science Update
Publication:Agricultural Research
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1U7LA
Date:May 1, 2007
Words:170
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