The following news articles appeared in the fall 2007 issue of Louisiana Agriculture.
In many ways plants and insects are intimately related. Possibly the most widely appreciated is the 150 million-year-old mutual dependence of flowering plants and honey bees. Without honey bees, many of our crops would not be pollinated.
Following are some facts about insects in the urban environment.
Mosquitoes in Louisiana may interfere with enjoyment of the outdoors almost any time of year. Yet, if you understand how mosquitoes live and multiply, you have a better chance of controlling their larval development sites and reducing their numbers.
The first step in successfully dealing with insect-related problems, whether in urban or agricultural settings, is identifying the organisms.
On Aug. 29, 2005, when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, floodwaters from storm surge and breached levees inundated New Orleans and surrounding areas with salt water. The red imported fire ant, a flood-adapted species originally from the Paraguay River flood plain in South America, was suppressed and in some cases eradicated. Many native ant species also were eradicated or their populations suppressed.
Collecting and studying Formosan subterranean termites from their native China may help entomologists find new ways of combating these invasive pests in the United States.
The Argentine ant is an exotic species brought to New Orleans from South America in the late 1800s. Historically, populations have been high in many areas of Louisiana, and for unknown reasons the populations have been expanding in the past 10 years.
In western Louisiana from Lake Charles all the way north of Lucky in Bienville Parish, a common site near roads and open areas are “towns” of small crater-shaped soil piles with large red ants busily moving particles of soil.
The Formosan subterranean termite has global economic impact as an urban pest. The nesting and feeding habits of this invasive pest leave many factors of its biology literally hidden in the dark.
Since 2000, nearly 450 pest control operators and technicians have completed two days of either basic or master training programs on treating for termites and other wood-destroying insects at the Lois Caffey Termite Training Center at the LSU AgCenter in Baton Rouge.
The invasive Formosan subterranean termite is destructive to Louisiana trees. The insect eats the centers of living trees and builds carton nests inside them.
A federally funded Formosan subterranean termite pilot test in New Orleans’ French Quarter, known as the French Quarter Program, began in 1998. Featuring various treatments to combat the termites, the program is a partnership among the LSU AgCenter, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service, the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board, the Audubon Nature Institute and area pest control applicators.
Although his title is entomologist his mission is a harmonious environment. Dale Pollet may well be one of the most popular people in Louisiana. That’s because he knows every bug in the state and what to do about them. And Louisiana has a lot of bugs.
Entomology is one of the LSU AgCenter’s most significant areas of research and outreach. Insect pests can cause devastation to crops and livestock. And insects can wreak havoc at home, too, in the house and in the garden.
Louisiana Agriculture Magazine Fall 2007.pdf