The fight goes on in New Orleans, La., and 10 other states against the Formosan subterranean termite, a particularly destructive breed of termites that has been dubbed the “super termite.” The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research division reports that these termites, which likely arrived in the U.S. on ships sailing back from the Pacific after World War II, cost homeowners about $1 billion each year in damages and pest control costs.
Formosan termites can penetrate plaster, plastic and asphalt, and built large carton nests above or below ground. A queen can live 15 years or more, while typical worker and soldier termites can live three to five years.
New Orleans is a particular hotbed for termite activity, and the U.S.D.A. has teamed with the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board in an effort, called Operation Full Stop, to eradicate these termites. Researches have found some success in controlling the termite population using “matrix formulations” that combine materials the termites like to eat with slow-acting toxins that eventually kill them.
In 2003, Operation Full Stop reported some success with a 50 percent drop in the number of swarming Formosan termites from the prior year.
A company that manufactures Termidor, a non-repellent liquid termite treatment, announced today that federal testing has shown that Termidor treatments have also proven effective against Formosan termites. Operational Full Stop has approved the installation of bait systems, the application of a non-repellant liquid chemical treatment such as Termidor or another chemical treatment, or a combination of the two methods in eliminating Formosan termite infestations. Termidor has been applied at an estimated 1.5 million homes since 2000, the company reported.