Protecting urban infrastructure from Formosan termite (Isoptera: Rhinotermitidae) attack: a case study for United States railroads.
While there are numerous reports about the unintentional impact railroad ties have on the accidental spread of Formosan termite Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki populations across the southeastern United States, there are few studies which actually look at the railroads themselves as progenitors contributing to the Formosan termite problem in the United States. This case study outlines six specific rail road bridges and documents the remedial control efforts to eliminate Formosan termites from these bridges. In one instance, Formosan termites had consumed 22.6, 20, and 36% of the pilings, caps, and stringers, respectively, from a 300' wood bridge in Houston, Texas. The infestation was so severe, the bridge was demolished and replaced with a concrete and steel structure at a cost of $3 million USD. Multiple detection technologies were used, but acoustic devices used in tandem with motion detection scanning microwave systems proved most useful. Other technologies are discussed. After three years of evaluation, the use of in-ground and above-ground baiting systems were highly effective in controlling Formosan termites in these instances. The consequences of how railroad companies deal with Formosan termites are addressed.