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Many trees torn down by Hurricane Zeta were termite infested — here's how to keep them out of yours

"Formosan termites are the silent enemy."

NEW ORLEANS — More than 200 downed trees were reported to the 911 call center in New Orleans from Hurricane Zeta and many of those trees fell because they were termite infested and couldn't withstand the strong wind.

"New Orleans has possibly the worst Formosan termite problem in the world," said Entomologist Joe Martin with Terminix.

You can tell fallen trees were infested with Formosan termites because they're hallowed out and full of termite carton nests.

"Formosan termites are the silent enemy," Martin said.

The silent enemy sent a loud message following Zeta.

"This storm really exposed us on the issue of the trees because of the high winds. We didn't have high wind like that in a long time," Martin said.

Formosan termites consume wood until the tree can no longer stand. That's why Martin blames them for bringing so many trees down.

"The termites are hollowing out our trees and we get hit with a lot of wind like that, the trees not as strong because it's hollowed out," Martin explained.

Martin estimates 50 percent of trees in New Orleans are infested with Formosan termites. That's why he recommends inspecting your trees especially before a storm.

Here are 3 tips from Terminix:

  1. Are there any termites at the base of the tree? Dig just below the soil line. If there are termites in your tree, they are likely present along the base.
  2.  Look for mud tubes between pieces of bark.
  3.  Look for signs of swarmers or flying termites. Mud protruding out from the tree may be passageways for the pests.

"It's a bad time to find out you had termites in the tree when the tree fell on the ground," Martin said.

Most trees can be treated by professionals like Terminix.

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