Federal termite program winding down in New Orleans

Richard Bogren, Morgan, Alan L., Ring, Dennis R.

News Release Distributed 04/08/11

A 13-year-old federal program to combat Formosan subterranean termites in New Orleans’ French Quarter is winding down, according to officials.

The program called Operation Full Stop featured treating French Quarter properties for termites through professional pest management companies paid with funds provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service.

The U.S. Congress eliminated federal funding effective April 15.

The LSU AgCenter has been the cooperating agency that manages federal payments to pest control operators that treat buildings in the French Quarter for termites.

French Quarter property owners recently were informed that federal payments for termite treatments by private pest control operators for individual properties would be stopped effective April 15. Any contracts with pest control operators after April 15 will be the responsibility of the property owners.

“It’s unfortunate the program is ending,” said LSU AgCenter Chancellor Bill Richardson. “Since 1998 the AgCenter has been an active partner in the effort to suppress Formosan subterranean termites in New Orleans.”

In addition to the pest management contracts, the AgCenter has been providing inspection service to building owners in the French Quarter along with inspectors from the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Board and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

An invasive species, the Formosan subterranean termite experts believe it was introduced in New Orleans and Lake Charles, La.; Galveston, Texas; and Charleston, S.C., from East Asia around the end of World War II. It’s now considered the most destructive insect in Louisiana, causing millions of dollars annually in losses caused by treatments, repairs, defaults on loans, and collapse and demolition of structures.

The AgCenter has been monitoring more than 600 in-ground stations and 100 sticky cards to track termite populations in the French Quarter.

The AgCenter monitoring program could continue until August 2012 based on funds that already have been distributed, said LSU AgCenter entomologist Dennis Ring. “This will allow for monitoring and follow-up to determine the results of the elimination of the pest control operator contract program.”

During the time Operation Full Stop has been in existence, Formosan subterranean termite infestations have been reduced in the French Quarter, Ring said.

“They’re not gone, but the population has been drastically reduced,” added LSU AgCenter entomologist Alan Morgan, who has been working on the project since its inception.

“Even without federal help, people need to continue to follow the program,” Morgan said. “We hope we’ll be able to continue to provide education programs to address termite problems in New Orleans.”

The federal termite initiative is one of many AgCenter programs that may be curtailed as a result of budgetary limits, said LSU AgCenter Vice Chancellor Paul Coreil. “We’re going to have to look carefully at what we’re going to be doing in the future.”

In addition to the French Quarter monitoring program, the AgCenter has been conducting several research programs to determine how to find and control termites, said John Russin, LSU AgCenter interim vice chancellor for research.

The most recent research involves a team in the AgCenter Department of Entomology that is using DNA profiles to detect individual termite colonies, determine the number of colonies infesting an area and identify the colonies producing swarming termites each year in the French Quarter, Russin said.

Their research has shown that:

– Termite colonies survived flooding following Hurricane Katrina.

– Up to 18 different colonies can infest a single building over a four-year period.

– Colonies can be eliminated with proper treatment.

– The number of colonies has been reduced by 85 percent over the last eight years, in all likelihood due to the persistent treatment effort.

Rick Bogren

4/8/2011 9:50:00 PM
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