Termites

Termites Threaten Economic Stability In Hundreds Of Countries All Over The World

Termites Threaten Economic Stability In Hundreds Of Countries All Over The World

 

Termites cannot get enough cellulose, and many of them do not mind eating-away at live plants and trees in order to get their fix. Termites do not pose a significant threat to crops within the United States, but in some countries termites are more of a threat to crops than they are to man-made structures. This is especially true in agrarian countries where agriculture is the largest sector of the economy. In the majority of countries termites are either considered secondary or primary crop pests. Most of the time termites are considered secondary pests. However, this does not necessarily mean that termites are less damaging to plants than primary insect pests.

 

Secondary pests only damage plants that have already been compromised by primary pests or environmental conditions. For example, some primary insect pests may drill holes into plant stems or vines. This is damaging enough to plant life, but then termites move in to cause further damage. Reproductive termites will locate these damaged plants while swarming. The reproductives enter the wounds of compromised plant stems or vines in order to start a new colony. Once a termite colony begins to grow within these plants, the entire stock will snap under the weight of the growing termite colony, thus destroying the plant. This is why termites cannot be dismissed as unimportant insect pests. In most cases, primary insect pests do not inflict enough damage on plants to kill them. It is actually the damage inflicted by secondary pests that ends up giving the final blow.

 

Termites are especially damaging to cacao plantations located within several African countries. In Zanzibar termites directly attack the seedlings in clove plantations, and the seedlings of coconut palms are destroyed by termites directly. Coconut seedlings are consumed by subterranean termites, while mature palms are killed by drywood termites. Termite damage to palm trees is most prevalent in Malaysia, India, Indonesia and Nigeria. Coffee and Sugarcane crops located in African, Asian, Middle Eastern and South American countries are also attacked regularly by termites. In Arab and African countries termites often infest cotton crops. Luckily, American cotton crops are not vulnerable to termites, but the reason for this is not exactly known. Even fully developed and industrialized countries, like Japan, contain crops that are attacked ruthlessly by termites. Japanese agricultural officials often find large termite populations within batches of pre-processed rice. Termites also attack a multitude of different trees, but eucalyptus is highly prized by termites. Not long ago, a housing developer used eucalyptus for landscaping people’s homes. Unfortunately, this eucalyptus only invited several termite infestations onto the property. Relatively speaking, the United States may see the least amount of damaging termite activity.

 

Do you believe that a non-native species of termite will be introduced into America at some point in the future?

How Did The “Termites In Mulch” Myth Start?

How Did The “Termites In Mulch” Myth Start?

The question of whether or not mulch can contain termites has been answered by experts repeatedly over the years. This question has also been explored by this blog in the past. Anybody who has researched this topic for themselves has learned that termites cannot, in fact, be found living within store-bought mulch. There are a variety of factors that make termite-infested bags of mulch a near certain impossibility. Despite the fact that this myth has been debunked by experts over and over again, it continues to persist. But how did this myth start? Strangely enough, the Louisiana State Agricultural Center posted a warning on their website back in 2005 and 2006 warning people about the risks of exporting termite-infested mulch from several counties within the state. During this time all exports that contained wood or cellulose material were to be prevented from leaving certain counties in Louisiana following the Katrina and Rita hurricanes. Obviously, this quarantine caused concern among many gardeners and landscapers around the United States. But even more damaging than the Ag center’s warning was an email that had been circulated to citizens all over the US. This email specifically mentioned popular home improvement stores as possibly selling termite-infested mulch that had been imported from Louisiana. This email began to circulate shortly after the LSU Ag Center announced their quarantine of wood-containing materials.

The quarantine announcement that was posted by LSU aimed to prevent wood that had been infested with Formosan subterranean termites from leaving areas of Louisiana. The wood that had been categorized as a risk included mulch, but there was no mention of termite-infested mulch showing up in major home improvement chain locations, like Home Depot. This is because termites cannot survive the various stages that mulch processing goes through before it is bagged and shelved for sale in stores. Selling quarantined wood from Louisiana as a material to create mulch would have been illegal at the time. It is possible that some quarantined wood may have been sold illegally as mulch to smaller retailers. The viral email was misleading and downright false, as it suggested that termite-infested mulch imported from Louisiana was being sold at large retailers. In fact, one major mulch retailer, Home Depot, only sells mulch that has been certified by the Mulch and Soil Council (MSC). This council does not, nor ever has, certified mulch from the New Orleans area. Some experts insist that there have been rare cases in which termites have traveled in bags of mulch during shipping. However, even in these cases, it is virtually impossible that the termites would still be living within the bags of mulch once they arrived in stores. Although the email’s claims have been debunked as false by many experts, the consequences of the email are still present in the fears of many gardeners and landscapers today.

If you have used mulch for several years, do you remember when the “termite in mulch” scare was at its height?