St. Charles Herald-Guide

Katrina has little effect on termite population

By M. Susanne Hinkle - May 10, 2006

Hurricane Katrina brought with her massive rainfall and flooding. In the storm’s aftermath, some residents in the area believed that the massive flooding would decrease the termite populations.

While researchers have found dead termites, in most areas of the state, the termite population has survived Katrina's impact.

Even in places that had catastrophic flooding, such as the lower ninth ward of New Orleans, it was discovered that termites found a way to escape the water. "We have found that the termites have adapted and kept their colonies free from water by blocking the incoming water somehow," said Dr. Dennis Ring of the LSU AgCenter.

Southeast Louisiana is home to two kinds of termites. The most common being the Subterranean and Drywood. Louisiana has always had native termites but the Formosan termite was introduced to the area after WWII.

Drywood termites are always found inside dry wood and require neither soil contact or external moisture. "These termites made their colonies above the ground, allowing them to escape the Katrina flooding," said Ring. Subterranean Termites can be found in wood and in the soil. They start colonies in the soil, require moisture, build mud tubes to access aboveground wood and bring soil into the wood they infest. Because of their ability to combat the incoming water, the Subterranean Termites experienced little affect from rising waters of Hurricane Katrina.

“Without a population test in the area, there is no way of telling just how many termites are in the area. As of today, we have not run any tests that would determine that the populations have been effected by the recent storms,” said Jim Hornby, President of Freedom Termite and Pest Control Inc., in LaPlace.

“There has been an increase in Formosan Termites in the River Parishes after Hurricane Katrina,” said Hornby. According to Hornby, while the River Parishes amazingly escaped Katrina’s wrath, termite populations in the area seem to have remained relatively the same as before the storm.

There are two main techniques that termite controllers use to downsize the termite populations. The most popular is ground treatment. Chemicals are used to create a barrier between the structure and the termites in the ground. Another technique often used by pest controllers is monitoring and baiting. This technique monitors the actions of the termites and sets bait stations around the structure that cut termite populations down significantly.

Katrina has little effect on termite population