National Wood Preservers Group Tours LSU AgCenters Termite Research Site

Dennis Ring, Smith, Walton R., Morgan, Johnny W.  |  5/26/2005 2:46:41 AM

Dr. W. Ramsay Smith, professor in the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, shows the type of Formosan subterranean termite research that’s being done in an old greenhouse at the LSU AgCenter’s Citrus Research Station near Port Sulphur. About 100 members of the American Wood Preservers’ Association toured the research facilities as part of their three-day convention in New Orleans. Smith says the research is gaining momentum and he wanted the members of the Wood Preservers’ group to see the type research that’s being done here in Louisiana.

News Release Distributed 05/25/05

Nearly 100 members of the American Wood Preservers’ Association took time from their three-day convention in New Orleans recently to tour LSU AgCenter termite research sites near Port Sulphur.

The association, made up of industry, government, university and general interest members, is a volunteer organization responsible for setting standards for the wood preservation industry and to protect consumers.

According to Dr. W. Ramsay Smith, professor in the LSU AgCenter’s Louisiana Forest Products Development Center, the convention participants represented other researchers and those involved in the industry who are interested in the studies being conducted at the LSU AgCenter’s Citrus Research Station.

"We wanted to bring people in the industry down to show them what we’re doing with different types of materials, testing of simulated structures and development of new testing methods – to show them our expertise and develop confidence in the research results we are obtaining," Smith said. "This confidence will help increase the amount of funding for future research at the Citrus Station."

While at the station, the participants toured two newly erected houses that LSU AgCenter researchers use to demonstrate the amount of damage Formosan subterranean termites do to different types of building materials. These structures are used to test wood-based construction materials such as windows, doors, framing and other structural materials.

Smith said this is one of three research projects in progress at the LSU AgCenter facility near Port Sulphur.

"We’re really beginning to gain momentum here at the Citrus Station," he said, adding, "The idea is to take both new products being developed plus those that are in the market and put them in the structures, then have the Formosans challenge them.

"To keep us on a fast track and to get the termites to attack sooner, we took an old greenhouse at the station filled with Formosan termites – that was going to be torn down – and turned it into a research facility. The sooner the termites attack our test products, the faster we can get good scientific results. We will use it to test new environmentally friendly wood-based treated products."

A third, older research site involves different materials that are actually buried in an area where the termites are known to be – in order to see what damage the termites will do to these materials.

LSU AgCenter experts say the Formosan subterranean termites were introduced into the greater New Orleans area, as well as several other coastal towns, after World War II. It’s believed that crates used to ship military equipment back from the war were infested with the pests.

"They were first identified in 1960s, but by that time they had already become well established in areas throughout New Orleans and the Lake Charles area," Smith said.

LSU AgCenter entomologists say Formosans primarily enter a structure by constructing shelter tubes from their underground nests into a building. To prevent them from entering a structure, a chemical barrier usually is applied to all possible entry points or "baits" are positioned around a structure.

In addition to Smith, Dr. Dennis Ring, a professor of entomology for the LSU AgCenter, discussed other work involved in battling the pests.

Ring, who works with the Formosan termite program in the French Quarter known as Operation Full Stop, also is a member of the Citrus Station research team.

As one of the presenters at the wood preservers’ conference, Ring discussed the program that began in New Orleans’ French Quarter in 1998 and described the integrated pest management approach that’s used in that area.

"We expanded the project in the French Quarter about a year ago, and we now have about 90 percent of those properties involved in the research that we’re doing in that area," Ring said. "We are using infrared, microwave and acoustic detection devices to go into structures and to check trees to find termites and to have them treated.

"We’re trying to find as many trees and as many structures as possible for treatment," Ring said

Experts say the LSU AgCenter research station is the first site in the continental United States where research on Formosan subterranean termites was conducted.

"Since we started, Mississippi is now online with research, so now there are two sites in the United States," Ring said. "Before that, you had to go to Hawaii, because there was no other place to go."

For further information on the LSU AgCenter’s battles with termites and other pests – or its variety of other programs on issues ranging from health and nutrition to community development – visit www.lsuagcenter.com.

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Contacts:
Dennis Ring at (225) 578-4615 or dring@agcenter.lsu.edu
W. Ramsey Smith at (225) 578-4131 or wsmith@agcenter.lsu.edu
Writer:
Johnny Morgan at (504) 838-1170 or jmorgan@agcenter.lsu.edu

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