Garden District Tree-Termite work

August 2013 began a 6 month odyssey of tree termite treatments in the Garden District of New Orleans. The Garden District is a 75-city block area of million-dollar homes and commercial properties bounded by Jackson Avenue, Louisiana Avenue, Carondelet St and Magazine St. St. Charles Avenue, which runs through the Garden District is the main route for the historic street car line and Mardi Gras parades. A survey of about 2000 street side trees in the district revealed over 250 that were infested with Formosan termites. Based on the work of Ed Bordes, it was assumed that the subterranean colonies associated with these trees were causing ongoing millions of dollars damage to these historic buildings. Every now and then, a large tree would collapse in a storm revealing hidden internal termite damage.

In 2000, then-Louisiana Agriculture Commissioner Bob Odom engaged a gaggle of residential termite companies to drill and treat every single street side tree in New Orleans and surrounding parishes -100,000 of them. The trees were treated with Premise and Termidor from a foaming device. Examination of the general tree population revealed that only 7% or about 7,000 of these trees were actually infested with termites. Researchers examining a sample of bonafide termite infested trees showed a 0% control rate.

Therefore, in cooperation with Chris Harvey Tree Service, 1 set out to treat only the bonafide termite infested trees using my standard methods with Pork’n’Beans (about 100 plates of active culture + 1 billion Steinernema worms), a bit of Premise termiticide and approximately 2 million gallons of water.

Figure 1: Adrian drilling a Live oak at the old Bultman Funeral Home site (now a Fresh Market Store) on the comer of St. Charles and Louisiana Avenue.

Figure 1: Adrian drilling a Live oak at the old Bultman Funeral Home site (now a Fresh Market Store) on the comer of St. Charles and Louisiana Avenue.



The treatments were put into 4 groups: 40 trees surrounding the Lafayette Cemetery, August 2013; 64 trees, Oct. 14 – 24, 2013; 104 trees, Nov. 7 – Dec. 13, 2013 and 75 trees, Feb 17 – March 6, 2014. A total of 283 trees were treated, tallied with estimates of internal damage and other notations for each. A total of 72 of these 283 treated trees, or 25% were deemed to be structurally unsafe, requiring prompt removal to prevent damage from wind throw.

Figure 2: American elm taking on 10,000 gallons of water from a garden hose adjacent to a structure. Note the termite damage on the lumber that was set out on the curb.

Figure 2: American elm taking on 10,000 gallons of water from a garden hose adjacent to a structure. Note the termite damage on the lumber that was set out on the curb.

Fig 3: Accessing trees remote from water sources: Chris Mussolino mans a system utilizing an electric pump running off the truck battery to feed termiticide into a tree.

Fig 3: Accessing trees remote from water sources: Chris Mussolino mans a system utilizing an electric pump running off the truck battery to feed termiticide into a tree.

The Lafayette Cemetery area contained 40 termite infested trees. It was considered “ground zero” for the termite infestation of the Garden District. Commanders Palace restaurant and several other buildings around it had been subject to repeated catastrophic damage by Formosan termites. The cemetery contained just 2 water taps. So, it was necessary to hook up 19 garden hoses with various “T” connectors to the trees, moving hoses around as needed. Water was allowed to run from the 2 taps for 1 month, delivering an estimated 416,000 gallons to the 40 trees in this area.

Figure 4: Hoses hooked up to multiple trees in the Lafayette Cemetery.

Figure 4: Hoses hooked up to multiple trees in the Lafayette Cemetery.

A 100% cruise of the 283 trees at the end of the termite season revealed a 20% re-infestation rate, or double the norm for this process – but well under the 100% reinfestation rate suffered by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture.

Figure 5: Exterior wall of Lafayette Cemetery, noting holes previously drilled into the masonry for application of liquid termiticide (arrows).

Figure 5: Exterior wall of Lafayette Cemetery, noting holes previously drilled into the masonry for application of liquid termiticide (arrows).

…and, what, pray tell, does this exterior wall of the Lafayette Cemetery contain? Coffins, cadavers and bones; it is a mausoleum. And, what can we conclude from this photograph? The termites in the Lafayette Cemetery must have been so bad that even the DEAD were complaining about them!