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Termites Endangering Bayou Trees

Many of New Orleans' majestic oaks survived Katrina's winds and post-hurricane floodwaters, but two local arborists are concerned that insufficient treatment for Formosan termites still could lead to the demise of some trees.

The arborists say roughly 11 percent of trees on city property were treated incorrectly for termite infestation--meaning injections of insecticide were not deep enough--and those trees could perish unless the situation is corrected.

But a local company doing the work said it drilled numerous holes into termite-infested trees, and also treated the soil around them. The arborists simply may be viewing trees well after the holes had closed up, a spokesman said.

"The trees close in the holes in about a week," said Jack Payne Sr. of Metairie-based Payne Exterminating. "If the arborist waited as much as a week or so to view the hole, it would be pretty much closed. The tree repairs itself and fills in the hole--it's three-eighths of an inch in diameter."

Jean Fahr, executive director for Parkway Partners, a nonprofit organization that maintains the city's neutral grounds, playgrounds and parks, agreed with Payne that the trees have been properly treated.

But Adrian Juttner, a licensed arborist, said he thinks hundreds of the city's oak trees, as well as pecan trees, on public property remain infested with termites and in need of more treatment.

"I've been saying for years that termites were ruining the trees in New Orleans," Juttner said. "These trees serve as protection during storms and hurricanes. If left untreated, many will decay and topple."

Source: Michelle J. Nealy, The Times Picayune

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October 20, 2019, 5:50 pm PDT

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