Though it may not be especially apparent at first glance, the city of New Orleans is under attack by a small, persistent pest. If left uncontested, it could seriously damage the homes and lives of the city’s residents. They were actually originally stow-aways from Japan, and with the surrender of WWII, and the need to package everything up and ship it back to the United States, lots of local asian wood was used, and along with this wood came the termites. They flourished as invaders because the climate of New Orleans is very similar to that of Japan, along with the fact they can reproduce quickly, and often go unnoticed until it is simply too late. Not to mention the fact New Orleans is basically all made of wood.
One of the ways that scientists are trying to take care of this problem is by setting up traps with tasty paper that attract termites, attached to a circuit. So when the termites eat the paper, the circuit is broken, and when they run over the spot with a metal detector, researchers will easily be able to tell if there have been termites there. Then, the tasty paper can be replaced with poisonous paper, and that particular nest can be killed. Though this will not by any means get rid of the termites as a whole, at least it is taking a step in the right direction.
It seems to me that this problem has gotten too out of control, and that New Orleans will have to take some incredibly drastic measures to keep these pests in check. Though what the researchers in film was interesting, it seems completely impractical on a large scale. All new homes will have to be built of non-wood materials, traps and monitoring systems put in place, and other prevention methods will have to be developed. I honestly had never heard of this issue though before this video, and though the city of New Orleans probably wouldn’t want everyone to know about their termite problem for tourism issues, it seems like they might be able to attract more activists and people who want to fix the problem if they made it more public perhaps? This might be a good idea, since sadly, the alternative is letting the city pretty much literally collapse before their eyes.
Photo from here.
First off I’d like to complement your amazing title; to be quite honest it was the reason I chose to read your blog post.
I really agree though with your idea that the current control strategies are relatively ineffectual. Clearly, as you said, more drastic measures need to be taken, though this is easier said than done. I wrote about the same invasive specie in my blog post and suggested that scientists might try to do the same thing that guy did with the weeds clogging the fishing ports and import another species for termite suppression. Basically between the mosquitoes, humidity, and now termites, I’ve crossed New Orleans off my list of places to visit.