85(4) December 2002
CURRENT DISTRIBUTION OF THE FORMOSAN
SUBTERRANEAN TERMITE AND OTHER TERMITE SPECIES
(ISOPTERA: RHINOTERMITIDAE, KALOTERMITIDAE) IN LOUISIANA
City of New Orleans Mosquito and Termite Control Board,6601 Stars and Stripes Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70126
Ft. Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Institute of Food & Agricultural Sciences,
3205 College Avenue, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
A statewide survey in Louisiana on the current distribution of the Formosan subterranean
Shiraki, and other termite species was conducted with 91
pest control companies, city and state agencies, and the New Orleans Mosquito and Termite
Control Board from January 1999 to August 2002. A total of 812 samples were used in the
survey constituting all eight known termite species from Louisiana. The subterranean ter-
mite species identiﬁed were
. The drywood termite species identiﬁed were
was also collected in Mississippi and is a new record in that state.
The collective data on the ﬂight season of each species was also recorded.
, Rhinotermitidae, Kalotermitidae
Un reconocimiento de la distribución actual de la termita subterránea formosana,
Shiraki y de otras especies de termitas fue llevado a cabo en Louisiana,
EE.UU. con la colaboración de 91 compañías de control de plagas, las agencias estatales y
municipales, y el Buró de Control de Mosquitos y Termitas de Nueva Orleans desde enero de
1999 hasta agosto de 2002. Un total de 812 muestras fueron usados en el reconocimiento
constituyendo las ocho especies de termitas conocidas de Louisiana. Las termitas subterrá-
neas identiﬁcadas fueron
. Las termitas de madera seca identiﬁcadas fueron
fue tambien colectada en Mississippi y es un nuevo registro en
aquel estado. Los datos colectivos sobre la temporada de vuelos para cada especie también
Translation provided by author.
The Formosan subterranean termite (FST),
Shiraki (Isoptera: Rhino-
termitidae), was ﬁrst identiﬁed in Lake Charles,
Louisiana, in 1966 and in New Orleans in 1967
(Spink 1967). It is widely believed that this exotic
species was introduced into the continental U.S.
after infested material was brought over from
Asia after World War II (Su and Tamashiro 1987).
For the past 30 years, FST infestations have been
found in other cities and various small communi-
ties throughout Louisiana. The main source of in-
troduction to these other areas is caused, in part,
by the transportation of infested building materi-
als, utility poles, and railroad ties used in land-
scaping (La Fage 1987). Then, natural spread has
occurred via alate dispersal ﬂights.
The last statewide survey involving the pest
control community for all termite species was con-
ducted around the time of the ﬁrst conﬁrmed re-
port of the FST (Weesner 1965). During the last
survey, species and ﬂight data were only recorded
from Rapides Parish, which includes the city of
(Light) (Isoptera: Kalotermitidae) were collected
from this region of the state. Previously, Light
(1934) and Snyder (1954) listed ﬁve species in
Louisiana. They included
(Isoptera: Kalotermitidae). Recently, Messenger
et al. (2000) discovered established populations of
(Hagen) (Isoptera: Kaloter-
mitidae) in New Orleans.
Since the last national survey in 1965, individ-
ual statewide termite surveys have been con-
Messenger et al.: Louisiana Termite Survey 581
ducted in Georgia (Scheffrahn et al. 2001), Florida
(Scheffrahn et al. 1988), Texas (Howell et al.
1987), and South Carolina (Hathorne et al. 2000).
These surveys signiﬁcantly contributed to our un-
derstanding of the current distribution of the eco-
nomically important FST.
Because there have been many unconﬁrmed re-
ports of the FST throughout the state, the main ob-
jective of this survey was to identify and conﬁrm
the current distribution of the FST in Louisiana
with the help of the pest control industry, the Loui-
siana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, and
mosquito control districts. In addition, the New Or-
leans Mosquito and Termite Control Board concur-
rently conducted a separate statewide survey for all
subterranean and drywood termite species.
Pest Management Professional (PMP) Survey
Beginning in January 1999, letters asking for
participation in the survey were mailed to 589
PMPs and mosquito control districts throughout
Louisiana, including a few pest control companies
operating near the state line in Mississippi and
Texas. Termite collecting packets were then pre-
pared and sent to each company who returned the
postcard with a response of willingness to partici-
pate. Each packet included individually num-
bered collection vials (13 ml polypropylene Snap-
Seal®, Corning Brand) containing 85% ethanol,
corresponding vial data sheets, return padded en-
velopes, and a hand-held aspirator. Each partici-
pant was encouraged to collect termite alates and
soldiers during routine inspections and treat-
ments of residential and commercial structures.
They were also encouraged to include any rele-
vant information from each collection on the data
sheet, which included date and location of collec-
tion, ﬂight date (if applicable), and any additional
comments and requests for more collection vials.
N. O. Mosquito and Termite Control Board (NOMTCB)
The senior author and other coworkers con-
ducted a deliberate survey throughout Louisiana
from 1999 to 2001. Termites were collected from live
and dead trees, state parks, railroad ties, highway
rest areas, private and public buildings, and any
other type of wood found along highways and parish
roads. We also traveled to addresses throughout the
state to verify FST infestations and conduct further
surveys in the surrounding areas. In addition, sam-
ples and FST locations were received from J.
McPherson, Program Coordinator, Pesticide and
Environmental Programs, Louisiana Department
of Agriculture and Forestry, Baton Rouge, LA.
For both surveys, termite alates and soldiers
were identiﬁed to species using termite keys de-
veloped by Banks & Snyder (1920), Miller (1949),
Snyder (1954), Weesner (1965), Scheffrahn & Su
(1994), and Hostettler et al. (1995). Samples con-
taining only workers (
pseudergates were identiﬁed to the family and/or
genus level. Data from both surveys was entered
into a computer database (FileMaker® Pro 3.0,
Claris® Corporation). Longitude and latitude co-
ordinates from the NOMTCB survey were re-
corded at each sample site using a Garmin GPS
model 12 CX (Garmin International, Inc., Olathe,
KS) hand-held global positioning receiver. Loca-
tions of each collection were plotted using Arc-
View GIS version 3.1 software (Environmental
Systems Research Institute, Inc., Redlands, CA).
Out of the original 589 survey letter mailings,
91 (15%) companies and individuals agreed to
participate by collecting any type of termite they
encountered during routine inspections and treat-
ments of urban structures and trees. There was no
response from 453 (77%) companies and 45 (8%)
responded, but declined to participate. The major-
ity of the companies who declined indicated that
they do not conduct termite treatments.
As a result, 52 of the 91 participants returned
collection vials for a total of 426 samples. All eight
known termite species were collected (Table 1).
The majority of these samples were collected from
the most commonly collected species throughout
the state (Table 1). The FST was the second most
commonly collected species; however, the majority
of the FST samples were collected from the New
Orleans and Lake Charles areas (Table 1).
Each participant also included an exact or ap-
proximate date of disperal ﬂight whenever they
collected alates. For the subterranean species,
Workers/pseudergates only 39
85(4) December 2002
alates were recovered from Jan. 17 to
alates from March 1 to May
on Dec. 17, 2001 (single record), and
the FST from April 12 to May 9. For the kaloter-
alates were recovered from
May 10 to July 22,
from May 9 to July 25,
from Oct. 10 to Nov. 1. Alate
were collected from Sept. 10 to
Dec. 4 in Rayne, Cameron, and Le Moyeu, LA;
however, monitoring of dispersal ﬂights by the se-
nior author in the New Orleans metro area oc-
curred each year from late April to early June.
was by far the most
commonly collected termite species throughout
Louisiana (Table 2).
were the two second most commonly
collected species (Table 2). The number of FST col-
lections only represents a few selected, conﬁrmed
sites throughout the state and does not include
any samples taken from New Orleans. The distri-
bution of FST infestations in Louisiana has signif-
icantly increased since 1966 (Table 3).
Incisitermes snyderi 21
Incisitermes minor 9
Cryptotermes brevis 8
Kalotermes approximatus 2
TABLE 3. LOCATION OF COPTOTERMES FORMOSANUS INFESTATIONS IN LOUISIANA, 1966-2001.
Year Parish City
1966* Orleans New Orleans, Algiers
Calcasieu Lake Charles
1968* Orleans New Orleans, Algiers
Calcasieu Lake Charles
Jefferson Grand Isle
La Fourche Raceland
1986* Orleans New Orleans, Algiers
Calcasieu Lake Charles, Westlake
Jefferson Metairie, Gretna, Grand Isle
La Fourche Raceland
St. Tammany Slidell, Covington
East Baton Rouge Baton Rouge
2001 Orleans New Orleans, Algiers
Calcasieu Lake Charles, Westlake, Moss Bluff, Sulphur
Jefferson Metairie, Gretna, Grand Isle, Kenner, Harahan, Westwego, Marrero
La Fourche Raceland, Thibodaux, Larose, Cut Off, Galliano
St. Tammany Slidell, Covington
East Baton Rouge Baton Rouge
St. Charles Norco
Assumption Pierre Part
Terrebonne Houma, Montegut
St. Bernard Chalmette
Plaquemines Belle Chase
Iberia New Iberia
St. Landry Sunset
Ouachita Monroe, West Monroe
2002 Acadia Rayne
St. Mary Amelia
*La Fage 1987.
Messenger et al.: Louisiana Termite Survey 583
In New Orleans, FST ﬂight activity was moni-
tored by the senior author using glue traps (TRAP-
PER® LTD, Bell Laboratories, Inc., Madison, WI)
installed under lights near the French Quarter.
Nightly observations and the number of FST alates
recovered from glue traps reveal peak ﬂight activity
usually occurs from mid-May to early June, with
some activity through mid-July (Table 4).
The majority of the I. minor and C. brevis sam-
ples were received from J. McPherson and local
residents of New Orleans.
Location data from both surveys for the FST
(Fig. 1), Reticulitermes species (Fig. 2), and kalo-
termid species (Fig. 3) are presented on ArcView-
The distribution of the FST in Louisiana has
increased dramatically since the ﬁrst conﬁrmed
reports in the mid-60s. However, many of these
newer, conﬁrmed infestations have remained rel-
atively localized, and state ofﬁcials have begun to
target these areas for immediate treatment. Most
of these localized introductions have occurred
around structures, such as churches, or parks and
campsites where FST-infested railroad ties were
used as landscaping and/or building material. Fu-
ture monitoring and conﬁrmation of any new FST
reports throughout the state is the ﬁrst step to
controlling human-aided spread.
TABLE 4. COMBINED ALATE FLIGHT DATES FOR COPTOTERMES FORMOSANUS IN NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA, FROM
1998 TO 2001.
Date Year Date Year Date Year
May 4 1998 2nd week of Jan. 2000 April 8 2001
May 11 2nd week of Feb. April 13
May 16 March 26 April 14
May 18* April 18 April 15
May 19 April 25 April 16
May 22 April 29 April 24
May 26 May 3 May 1
May 29* May 4 May 4
June 6 May 5 May 5
June 8 May 8 May 7
June 18 May 10 May 9
June 21 May 14 May 12
June 23 May 15 * May 13
June 28 May 21 May 14
2nd week of Feb. 1999 May 22 May 15*
April 6 May 26 May 17
April 26 May 29 May 20
April 27 June 4 May 21
April 28 June 15 May 22
May 6 June 16 May 23
May 7 June 17 May 24
May 12* May 25
May 14 May 26
May 17 May 31
May 18 June 1*
May 19 June 4
May 25 June 7
May 27 June 11
May 29* June 14
June 6 June 18
June 9 June 21
June 10 June 24
June 22 June 28
1st week of July
3rd week of July
*Largest dispersal ﬂight (s) each year.
584 Florida Entomologist 85(4) December 2002
Outside the New Orleans and Lake Charles
areas, R. ﬂavipes and R. virginicus are the two
most economically important subterranean ter-
mite species, with R. ﬂavipes being the most com-
mon. The spatial distribution of all three
Reticulitermes species is consistent statewide;
however, R. ﬂavipes seems to be more common in
the extreme southern portions of the state. For ex-
ample, samples of R. ﬂavipes were collected from
house pilings directly in the sand at Holly Beach
on the Gulf of Mexico and from ﬁshing camps
around the Mississippi River delta basin.
During the PMP survey, R. hageni was rarely
encountered in structures. In addition, K. approx-
imatus was only collected from dead portions of
trees and from alates ﬂying into the vehicles of
participants on two separate occasions. For both
species, this conﬁrms their general status as very
limited structural pests (Weesner 1970, Schef-
frahn et al. 1988).
Incisitermes snyderi and C. brevis are the two
most economically important kalotermid species
in Louisiana, with I. snyderi being the most com-
mon. Cryptotermes brevis is a non-endemic spe-
cies and has only been recovered from structural
lumber and furniture. Incisitermes snyderi is an
endemic species commonly found in structural
lumber and in dead portions of live trees through-
out the southern half of the state.
The overall number of I. minor collections
throughout the state was unexpected. Another in-
teresting discovery was the number of public
schools throughout the state with very active I.
minor infestations, particularly in window frame-
work. Incisitermes minor is endemic to CA, AZ,
and Mexico, but has been introduced to many ar-
eas in the state, and in most cases, inside furni-
ture. For example, a sample was taken from an
infested pool table in Natchez, MS. In New Or-
leans, I. minor alates are usually collected from
mid-April to mid-June during midday ﬂights.
However, alates were recovered after swarming
from a window frame in an elementary school in
Rayne, LA, during the second week of September
2001. In addition, I. minor alates were collected
after swarming in a high school in Cameron, LA,
Fig. 1. Current distribution of Coptotermes formosanus in Louisiana.
Messenger et al.: Louisiana Termite Survey 585
in late September 2001. Historical records reveal
the ﬂight season of I. minor usually occurs from
July to December, and as early as May in the lab-
oratory (Harvey 1934). In addition, I. minor ﬂight
records in California (Snyder 1954), Florida
(Scheffrahn et al. 1988), and Georgia (Scheffrahn
et al. 2001) revealed swarming usually occurs
from September to November. An alarming dis-
covery revealed I. minor alates swarming in a
lumberyard near Le Moyeu, LA, in December
2001. This could lead to future introductions
throughout the state.
In addition to the overall survey, a pictorial ter-
mite identiﬁcation key was developed in 2001 to
help PMPs, state ofﬁcials, and termite researchers
identify the FST and other economically important
subterranean and drywood termite species cur-
rently present in Louisiana (Messenger 2002).
We are grateful to E. S. Bordes, M. K. Carroll, and J.
C. McAllister (NOMTCB) for reviewing the manuscript.
Special thanks to John McPherson, Louisiana Depart-
ment of Agriculture and Forestry, for providing samples
and FST locations. The senior author would like to
thank the following NOMTCB employees, Mike Schultz,
Perry Ponseti, and Gus Ramirez, for their help in col-
lecting termites. We would also like to thank the follow-
ing individuals for advice, information, and collecting
support: Dan Foster and Chris Castalano (Terminix—
Houma), Eddie Martin and Vincent Palumbo (Ter-
minix—Metairie), Zack Lemann (Audubon Institute),
and Claudia Riegel (Dow AgroSciences LLC). We are
very grateful to the following pest control companies for
submitting termite samples: Al’s Pest Control Service,
Inc.; Louisiana Bug Doctors; Beasley Pest Control, Inc.;
Pest Aid Co. of Alexandria, Inc.; Dial One Franklynn
Pest Control; American Exterminating Co.; McKenzie
Pest Control; Absolute Termite Control; Foti Extermi-
nating Co.; Edgewood Pest Control, Inc.; Johnny Jones
Pest Control Co.; Joyner’s Pest Control; Fischer Envi-
ronmental Services, Inc.; Terminix—Gretna; Al Lati-
olais Exterminating Co.; International Rivercenter;
Responsible Pest Management LLC.; Sikes Pest Con-
trol, Inc.; J & R Pest Control, Inc.; Hubbards Pest Con-
trol; Tri-Parish Pest Control Co., Inc.; David Carter
Exterminating Co., Inc.; Denney Exterminating Co.;
Environmental Termite and Pest Control; Orkin Exter-
minating—Baton Rouge; E.A. Redd Pest Control, Inc.;
Fig. 2. Combined distribution data of Reticulitermes spp. in Louisiana from PMP and NOMTCB surveys.
586 Florida Entomologist 85(4) December 2002
Richard L. Robards Termite Services; Hookﬁn Pest Con-
trol Co., Inc.; Sugarland Exterminating Co., Inc.; Cou-
hig Southern Environmental; Terminix—Slidell; Anti-
Pest & Veitch, Inc.; Kevin’s Pest Control, Inc.; Slug-A-
Bug Exterminating Co.; E & G Pest Control, Inc.; Jer-
ome Williams Pest Control Co.; Woods Pest Control;
Sears Termite & Pest Control Inc.; Billiot Industries,
Inc.; Vexcon Inc.; Stetler Pest Control; A Plus Extermi-
nators, Inc.; Brent’s Pest Control Services; Guardian
Pest Control; Arceneaux Consulting; Calcasieu Parish
Mosquito Control; East Baton Rouge Mosquito and Ro-
dent Control; Mosquito Control, Inc.; St. Bernard Parish
Mosquito Control; Louisiana Department of Agriculture
and Forestry; and USDA-ARS SRRC. Partial funding
for this project was provided by USDA-ARS under the
grant agreement No. 58-6435-8-108. This article is Flor-
ida Agricultural Experiment Station Journal Series No.
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Messenger et al.: Louisiana Termite Survey 587
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