Katrina Networking

I am using my networking and marketing skills to pass along vital information to organizations, volunteers and survivors of the 2005 hurricane season. Grants, networking, advocating, assistance resources, articles and more. Updated regularly to better assist you.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Termite Epidemic Myth

I had gotten the e-mail that is circulating about termites being in super cheap bulk mulch being taken out of the Gulf Region. I checked with a gardening friend of mine, she had heard nothing about it through her contacts and then sent me the following information from her Master Gardener Network in VA.

I also know from a little landscaping experience in TX that unless you buy mulch off market, it's been sterilized, so has a very small chance of any type of bug or non-native 'infection' being in it.

I hope this quells some fears and stops folks from spreading rumors. Since it wasn't on Snopes.com last I looked, I'm posting it here.

Fellow agents,

Since Wednesday of last week, there have been several cold-calls to our office about termite-infested mulch being sold "cheaply" by big box hardware stores. The latest information is that the story is an urban myth. Below are 2 emails received last Friday and today that are self-explanatory.
--------------------------------------------------------------------
Frank M. Fulgham
Program Manager
Office of Plant & Pest Services
VA Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services
P.O. Box 1163, Richmond, VA 23218

Mulch - Formosan Termites
Date: Thu, 2 Mar 2006 15:39:28 -0600
Dear NPB Members, many of you may have received inquiries regarding termite infested mulch coming from the Hurricane Katrina area. This is the result of a public email circulating across the country. Below is a response from my Assistant Commissioner to a similar email.

Thanks, Craig M. Roussel,
Director Horticulture & Quarantine Programs
Louisiana Dept. of Agriculture & Forestry 225/952-8100

The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry, Office of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, has quarantines in place in the Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita affected parishes of Calcasieu, Cameron, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington.

All woody debris in the quarantined areas is going to an approved landfill within the designated quarantine area. There are a multitude of government (state and federal) agencies that are looking at this debris every day as it is deposited into these landfills. The contractors mulching and hauling the debris know the regulations and are abiding by them according to the quarantine requirements. If there is anyone with knowledge of debris moving out of a quarantine area, they should contact our 24-hour hotline @ 225-925-3763.

These are serious allegations and will be taken seriously.

Matthew Keppinger Assistant Commissioner Louisiana Department of Agriculture & Forestry

Here's the press release.
Thanks, Craig

Agriculture & Forestry Today with Commissioner Bob Odom
Contact: Ashley Rodrigue March 3, 2006

Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet.

That is the message Commissioner of Agriculture and Forestry Bob Odom is stressing to the public as an email rumor about Formosan termite-infested mulch is circling the globe. The email warns consumers not to purchase “cheap” wood mulch at major home improvement chains because it may be infested with Formosan termites.

“The email is not accurate and doesn’t even mention the quarantines this department put in place last fall to keep Formosan termites from spreading,” Odom said. The Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry issued quarantines following the hurricanes for woody debris in Cameron, Calcasieu, Jefferson, Jefferson Davis, Orleans, Plaquemines, St. Bernard, St. Charles, St. John, St. Tammany, Tangipahoa and Washington parishes. Woody debris cannot be moved out of these areas without first submitting a plan for treatment to the department.

“I’ve had my people out looking into these claims to make sure there are no violations of the quarantine. I’ve also had our invasive pest expert contact the stores mentioned in the email and we’ve yet to find any validity to the claims in the email,” Odom said. “In my opinion, someone is using the Internet to cause hysteria about a problem that doesn’t really exist. If there are people out there who know about someone violating the quarantines, then they need to report it to us. We’ll shut the culprits down real quick but it has to be reported,” Odom said. “I think the quarantine's doing the job, though. We’ve worked with the debris contractors, the Corps of Engineers and FEMA to handle the debris and quarantines.”

To report a quarantine violation, call (225) 925-3763. -30-

Debbie Dillion Urban Horticulturist Loudoun Cooperative Extension
30 B Catoctin Circle SE
Leesburg VA 20175
703-771-5838

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