Landscapers have not been greatly affected by subterranean termites, but they are increasingly challenged by the Formosan subterranean termite. An invasive species, the Formosan subterranean termite is believed to have been introduced in New Orleans and Lake Charles, La.; Galveston, Texas; and Charleston, S.C., from East Asia around the end of World War II. Its presence was not detected in Louisiana until 1966.
This termite is now considered the most destructive insect in Louisiana and causes millions of dollars in losses caused by treatments, repairs, defaults on loans, and collapse and demolition of structures. It is being spread across Louisiana and to other states.
Subterranean termites attack some plants landscapers use. Native and Formosan subterranean termites are found on and in trees and woody plants; however, the Formosan subterranean termite eats the centers of live trees and woody plants. Here is a partial list of susceptible tree species found with infestations of Formosan subterranean termites:
The Formosan subterranean termites attack other tree species, too. They tunnel inside a tree, eat the center and build carton nests. They can develop huge populations, as many as 10 million insects in a colony. They also spread to surrounding structures, including homes, from these colonies in trees. Trees should be inspected for the presence of Formosan subterranean termites. The most effective method to determine if a tree is infested with Formosan subterranean termites is a thorough visual examination of the exterior of the tree from ground level to about 6 to 8 feet up the tree trunk.
The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture