11 Most Endangered Historic Places

Historic Buildings Infested with Formosan Termites

Year Listed: 1997
Location: New Orleans, Louisiana
Threat: Natural Forces

Significance

Formosan termites are literally chewing up the historic buildings of New Orleans and the Gulf Cost states. Introduced to the United States from east Asia in the 1940's, Coptermed formosanus thrived in the hot, humid climate of the South and spread rapidly throughout the Gulf states, attacking not just the built environment but also trees and crops. Treatment to get rid of the termites is costly and complicated. For example, in the French Quarter entire blocks must be treated one at a time. Individual buildings must be tented and fumigated, but it's still not known which chemicals are most effective in the long-term. New techniques such as "baiting" have shown promise, but additional funding is needed to develop new and improved methods to control and eradicate the termite and to establish a national clearinghouse to survey the extent of damage and share information.