Cleaning up wood debris after a hurricane can inadvertently spread one of Louisiana’s most destructive pests – the Formosan subterranean termite. The highest concentrations of this termite in the continental United States are in Lake Charles and New Orleans, cities flooded following Hurricanes Rita and Katrina. Any cellulose material (wood or paper products) can contain termites.
Do Not Move Termites – Do Not Provide Food for Termites
- Wood-to-ground contact can attract termites. Debris should be picked up around the house as quickly as possible to stop termites from relocating near your home.
- Brown rot fungi, which grow on wet wood or wallboard, attracts Formosan subterranean termites.
- Formosan subterranean termites in wood (including trees) or other locations above water will likely survive a flood. As soon as the flood recedes, termites will move back down to lower levels to resume foraging.
- Wood taken from damaged buildings and other structures could be infested with termites. Lumber and other cellulose containing material could become infested with termites if left on the ground too long.
- Any salvaged wood should be taken off the ground and away from the house.
- Any untreated wood in Southeast and Southwest Louisiana should be considered as potentially infested with termites, especially Formosan subterranean termites.
- Keep all salvaged items made of wood, paper and their products from being transported until they are checked by a termite inspector.
- Downed trees, limbs and other woody plant material may be infested with termites or become infested if they remain on the ground too long.
Dispose of Termite-infested Wood
- Painted wood from construction before 1978 is probably lead-contaminated and should not be incinerated; this wood needs to be taken to a facility for proper disposal.
- Don’t bury wood. Even pesticide treatments won’t prevent buried wood from eventually becoming infested with termites; buried debris will provide food for termites when the buried wood is exhausted.
- Downed trees and large shrubs on the ground should be cut into movable segments and taken to a facility for proper disposal.
Leaves and small branches can be bagged to be taken to the landfill or composted and used as mulch. Keep in mind that mulch is termite food.