In National Geographic’s film “Strange Days on Planet Earth”, the narrator Edward Norton explains to the viewer how even the smallest invasive specie can still cause havoc in a big city. In New Orleans, Louisiana, several families and their homes are waging war against an alien creature in their area. Formosan termites from Japan are becoming a huge problem for the people of New Orleans to handle. These termites are constantly eating away at people’s wooden buildings and homes throughout the city. The termites work in large groups, eat twenty-four hours a day, and always search for food. Their consistancy is the cause for over two billion dollars of damage in the past decade. This damage is not only expensive but also potentially dangerous as the termites’ actions cause buildings and homes to come crashing down.
The termites began their journey to the United States following the end of World War II. After the war ended, the United States Navy constructed wooden boxes in order to transport their supplies from Japan back to the United States. The only problem is that the Navy was not solely transporting supplies. The Formosan termites also hitched a ride to the United States by being inside of the wooden structure of the boxes. From that time sixty years ago, the termite population has expanded rapidly in some parts of the United States, especially Louisiana. Louisiana is favorable to the termites since it has a hot and sticky climate, just like the one the termites are accustomed to back in Japan.
As many as ten nests could be found in only one neighborhood in New Orleans. The city realizes that they are not able to eliminate the termites, so its goal is to manage the termite population. Claudia Riegel has been constructing wooden bait locations under ground. When the termites take the bait, Riegel replaces the wooden bait with poison paper. Her goal is to have the termites transport the poison back to their respective nests. If this process is successful, the nest would be destroyed in under three months time. This approach has a chance to limit the amount of termites in New Orleans, but it still does not seem as if it is enough. New Orleans officials found termites in one of the electrical buildings that is in charge of preventing New Orleans from being flooded. If more action is not conducted, the termites will eventually eat away at the building until it collaspes causing the city of New Orleans to flood. Hopefully, after this movie was presented, several more methods were conducted to try to severely limit the amount of termites in New Orleans. If not, then these termites are probably destroying homes and electrical buildings daily.
I wrote about the termite problem as well because the movie taught me about such a prominent and expensive problem that I was completely unaware of. In class we had talked about how invasive species were a very costly, but seemingly hidden problem in the United States and I think the termite problem is a very good illustration of this idea. I agree with the fact that the tactics being used aren’t sufficient and that more need to be explored to begin to manage such a serious problem.
I also did the termites piece of the film as my SW2 and so I thought I’d see what your perspective was as well. I agree with what you’re saying, and that perhaps the problems with the electrical buildings should be made more known before they cause larger scale problems than they already have. I hadn’t heard about the electrical building issues, and I doubt the general public has any sense of this whatsoever.