Dennis Ring, Morgan, Johnny W.
NEW ORLEANS – LSU AgCenter scientists are gearing up to expand their battle with Formosan termites in the New Orleans French Quarter.
They soon will expand the area being treated as part of a federally funded test program dubbed Operation Full Stop, which is looking for ways to control the destructive creatures. The new expansion marks the second time the treatment area has increased since the program began in 1998 with initial tests in a 15-block area around Jackson Square Park.
The expansion comes on the heels of years of success in the area, which was up to 30 blocks being treated before this latest expansion that brings the total to approximately 46 blocks.
"Since the program started in 1998, there has been a 50 percent decrease in the termite activity in the treated area," said LSU AgCenter entomology professor Dr. Dennis Ring. "What this means is that the owners’ costs are decreasing, and less damage is being done to these historic buildings."
Ring and other LSU AgCenter scientists – along with staff from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board – recently met with residents of the expanded area to make them aware of the procedures of the treatment plan.
"We are kicking off the third phase of the Operation Full Stop program, which will involve us covering what is basically an additional four by four block area," Ring said, explaining that the new area is bordered by the Mississippi River, Esplanade, St. Philip and Dauphine streets.
That means the area now being treated under the program covers a strip from Bienville Street to Esplanade between Dauphine Street and the Mississippi River.
This Formosan termite control project is one of five in the United States and the only one in Louisiana – although the pest has spread to other areas of the state and the country. Experts say the program’s success has led to continued funding from Congress – although that must be renewed year by year.
"Congress has funded the program for the past few years, but we remind our new participants that funding is provided yearly, and funding for treatments is not expected to exceed five years," Ring said, adding, "In the other states that have programs, the property owners are having to bear the cost of the treatment."
The program is expected to cost about $1 million for treatment of new and renewal properties in the area for the next year.
Ring explained that the LSU AgCenter has the lead role in the project, which means he and his coworkers are in charge of the paperwork. They get the contracts from the pest management professionals, inspect properties and treatments and coordinate sampling to see if the treatment program is working.
"Before properties in the third phase are treated, we will go in with infrared cameras and scan the walls of a structure," Ring explained. "If we detect temperature differences, we bring in a microwave device to check for movement, and that helps us find the termites."
With this new phase of the program, buildings won’t be the only objects being scanned, according to Ring, who said experts also will inspect trees in the area to see if there are termites present and, if so, to treat those, as well.
Ring said the success of this comprehensive project depends on a cooperative effort to be successful.
"We are working closely with our partners on this project," Ring said, explaining, "As a matter of fact, the funding comes from Congress to the USDA’s Southern Research Center in New Orleans, and we’re funded through that agency. They also help us with sampling and in the decisions that have to be made on the project.
Ring said the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board also has played a major role in the project – bearing the responsibility for drilling the hundreds of holes for in-ground monitoring stations that are placed in the sidewalks throughout the French Quarter. These are used to monitor the ground activity of these pests.
"We use two types of treatments in this project. We have baits that the pest management professionals monitor on a monthly basis and the liquid treatments that are inspected yearly," Ring said, adding, "The treatments are applied by local pest management professionals using commercially available baits or non-repellent termiticides."
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 the LSU AgCenter Web site.