NEW ORLEANS — An emptied New Orleans is seeing the return of one longtime resident it could do without: the termite.
Scientists had predicted the dirty saltwater that flooded New Orleans in the weeks after Hurricane Katrina would spell the demise of the Formosan subterranean termites that have troubled the city for more than 50 years. But Formosans, unlike native termites, can establish colonies in trees or buildings and probably fled to higher ground as Katrina arrived, experts said.
"I think they were in their own evacuation mode," said Ed Bordes, director of New Orleans' Mosquito and Termite Control Board.
Six months ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said numerous underground termite colonies had been submerged and were expected to drown. But those reports were premature.
"That information came from laboratories, not from the field," Bordes said.
In fact, in hard-hit neighborhoods near Lake Pontchartrain, inspectors found live termites in traps that had been submerged in up to 10 feet of water.