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 quarantines are doing the job, though. We’ve worked with the debris contractors, the Corps of Engineers and FEMA to handle the debris and quarantines.”
An official with the LSU AgCenter’s Cooperative Extension Service said their offices have been receiving calls non-stop about information contained in the emails.
“Our termite specialists are getting inundated with calls and e-mails,” said Dr. Paul Coreil, LSU AgCenter vice chancellor and director of the Louisiana Cooperative Extension Service. “We have posted new information on our Web site. We hope people will continue to use this as a resource for accurate information.”
To report a quarantine violation, call (225) 925-3763. The Department of Agriculture and Forestry’s Web site, www.ldaf.state.la.us, and the LSU AgCenter’s Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com, contain information about the quarantines, Formosan termites and debris disposal.