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Termites Invade New Orleans

People in New Orleans can no longer trust the floor beneath their feet. Harmful invasive species are spreading through the southern United States, destroying property in their path. According to Claudia Riegel and her colleagues, these voracious insect interlopers likely began their journey half a world away on the heels of World War II. As US forces in Japan and China packed up to return home, the wooden crates they used were likely teeming with termite stowaways. Upon arrival in Louisiana, these Formosan subterranean termites found the perfect home — a hot sticky climate akin to their southern China birthplace with plenty of wood to sustain their appetites.
By 1960, the city of New Orleans started singing the blues. Riegel knows the best she can do is simply manage, not eradicate, these implacable hordes. Using bait stations strewn across the city, she cuts off the supply lines to the main nests and keeps a vigilant watch over the city.

According to termite expert Dr. Nan-Yao Su from the University of Florida, Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, approximately $1.5 billion is spent annually for termite control in the US Subterranean termites account for 80% of the damages.

Related Links
» Read an extensive natural history termite overview Off-site Link from the Entomology and Nematology Department, Florida Cooperative Extension Service, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida.
» See a map of Formosan distribution through the US Off-site Link
» Hear the sound of Formosan termites eating Off-site Link as well as all sorts of other cool insect sounds.

Formosan subterranean termite

Next: Lake Victoria's Water Hyacinth Problem »

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