Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Did Termites Help Katrina Destroy New Orleans Floodwalls And Levees?

Date:
October 15, 2008
Source:
Entomological Society of America
Summary:
A new article suggests that Formosan subterranean termites played a large role in the destruction of floodwalls and levees during Hurricane Katrina.

A nest of Formosan subterranean termites.
Credit: Photo by Scott Bauer; courtesy of USDA/Agricultural Research Service

Three years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, people still speculate over causes of the destruction of the city’s floodwall system. A new article in the fall issue of American Entomologist (Vol. 54, No. 3) suggests that Formosan subterranean termites played a large role.

Author Gregg Henderson, a professor at the Louisiana State University AgCenter, discovered Formosan subterranean termites (Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki) in the floodwall seams in August, 2000 – five years before Katrina struck – and noticed that the seams were made of waste residue from processed sugarcane. Known as bagasse, this waste residue is attractive to Formosan termites.

After the dikes were breached in 2005, Henderson and his colleague Alan Morgan inspected 100 seams for evidence of termites, including three areas where major breaks in the walls had occurred. 70% of the seams in the London Avenue Canal, which experienced two major breaks during Katrina, showed evidence of insect attack, as did 27% of seams inspected in the walls of the 17th Street Canal.

The Formosan subterranean termite originates from China, where it has been known to damage levees since the 1950s. Besides eating at bagasse seams, the termites may have contributed to the destruction of the levees of New Orleans by digging networks of tunnels, which can cause “piping,” sending water through the tunnels and undermining the levee system.

“I believe that the termites pose a continuing danger that requires immediate attention,” Henderson writes. “The fact that termites cause piping in levees must be accepted.”

The author further suggests that New Orleans’ 350 miles of levees and floodwalls should be surveyed for termite damage, and that treatment of the floodwalls and nearby trees may be necessary to avoid future disasters. Henderson will demonstrate one survey method using ground-penetrating radar at the ESA Annual Meeting in Reno, Nevada, November 16-19.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Entomological Society of America. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Entomological Society of America. "Did Termites Help Katrina Destroy New Orleans Floodwalls And Levees?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 October 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134102.htm>.
Entomological Society of America. (2008, October 15). Did Termites Help Katrina Destroy New Orleans Floodwalls And Levees?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 27, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134102.htm
Entomological Society of America. "Did Termites Help Katrina Destroy New Orleans Floodwalls And Levees?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/10/081014134102.htm (accessed August 27, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

Calif. Quake Underscores Need for Early Warning

AP (Aug. 26, 2014) Researchers at UC Berkeley are testing a prototype of an earthquake early warning system that California is pursuing years after places like Mexico and Japan already have them up and running. (August 26) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Hurricane Marie Brings Big Waves to California Coast

Reuters - US Online Video (Aug. 26, 2014) Huge waves generated by Hurricane Marie hit the Southern California coast. Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

Brazil Tries Genetically Modified Mosquitoes to Fight Dengue

AFP (Aug. 25, 2014) A factory in the industrial state of Sao Paulo produces genetically modified mosquitoes to fight dengue, a deadly tropical disease more prevalent in Brazil than anywhere else in the world. Duration: 00:57 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

Raw: Prime Minister at Japan Landslide Site

AP (Aug. 25, 2014) Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visited Hiroshima on Monday as rescuers expanded their search for dozens still missing from landslides around the western Japanese city that killed at least 50 people. (Aug. 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



    Save/Print:
    Share:

    Free Subscriptions


    Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

    Get Social & Mobile


    Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

    Have Feedback?


    Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
    Mobile: iPhone Android Web
    Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
    Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
    Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins