Termites Spreading In Mulch?

March 10, 2006 - 11:44

Recently, questions have been raised about the possibility of Formosan subterranean termites in mulch produced from dead trees from hurricane-hit along the Gulf Coast.

According to a statement from the University of Florida, “University of Florida entomologists confirm that termites cannot survive the mulching process, but may reinfest mulch after it has been created, bagged and awaiting shipment.”

Louisiana State University entomologists are also addressing concerns and have released the following statement from Dennis Ring, entomologist, professor and extension specialist from the LSU AgCenter on the issue:

A question has arisen about Formosan subterranean termites being moved in mulch from New Orleans and Louisiana following hurricanes Katrina and Rita. It is true that there is a lot of cellulose debris (wood, paper and their products) in Louisiana following these two hurricanes.

Something has to be done with this debris. Yes, Formosan subterranean termites are found in the parishes affected by the hurricanes and will get in mulch. They also eat the centers of live trees. See the LSU AgCenter Web site (www.lsuagcenter.com) for information on the biology and ecology of this insect.

However, the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) in
Louisiana imposed a quarantine for the Formosan subterranean termite on
October 3, 2005, in Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis,
Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist,
St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes (the parishes affected by the hurricanes).

Thus, efforts are in place to prevent the spread of the Formosan subterranean termite in mulch or other materials. Additionally, the insect may be managed using integrated pest management.

Provisions of the quarantine imposed by the LDAF include:

  • Movement of wood or cellulose material is prohibited unless either it is fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites and is approved for movement by the commissioner or his designee. Or written authorization is given by the commissioner or his designee(s) for the movement of untreated wood or cellulose material from the quarantined parishes.
  • Temporary housing cannot be moved from the named parishes until written authorization is given by the commissioner or his designee(s).
  • All architectural components (beams, doors and salvaged wood) cannot be sold or placed in any structure in any parish until the architectural components are fumigated or treated for Formosan subterranean termites.
  • Additionally, it is strongly recommended and urged that all new construction and reconstruction of structures in the quarantined parishes use termite-resistant materials. Termite-resistant materials include pressure-treated wood (borates, ammonical copper quat or copper azole) or non-cellulose materials.

The quarantine is in effect until it is rescinded by the commissioner of agriculture. If a waiver of a requirement or an authorization to carry out one of the prohibited acts is granted, it does not rescind or modify the quarantine.

For more information on this issue visit the LSU AgCenter Web site www.lsuagcenter.com or the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry at www.ldaf.state.la.us.

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