A National Landmark In The US Virgin Islands Was Nearly Destroyed By Termites
Termite infestations are particularly damaging to Historical structures. Most historical structures are made of untreated wood that stands at great risk of becoming a hotspot for termite infestations. Furthermore, century’s old structures were often built on land that had not been inspected for the presence of termites. This is especially true in the New World, where builders were not familiar with native termite threats. Considering these factors termite infestations within historic structures is a concern. In the United States Virgin Islands, government officials long struggled with a termite infestation that had occured at a centuries old structure named Fort Christiansvaern. This structure is located in Christiansted, which is the capital of the island of St. Croix. Christiansted has also been declared a National Historic site which contains six historical landmarks, the most important of which is Fort Christiansvaern. When the fort was being refurbished during the 1990s, an extensive termite presence was found to be infesting the landmark.
Fort Christiansvaern was built between the years of 1738 and 1749 by Danish settlers to the New World. Since the landmark is located within the termite-populated tropics, experts have speculated that termite-related issues became a threat to the structure right as construction had been completed. Record books kept by Danish officials since the 1700s rarely mentioned the reasons for the structure’s many wood replacements over the centuries. However, during the 1760’s one town official mentioned termites and ants as having the most damaging effects on the structure. A vast network of freshwater once existed directly beneath the landmark. As termites are attracted to water, this underground network of water likely put the landmark at risk of subterranean termite infestations. Today, the region’s dry climate has rid the area of underground water.
In the early 1990s park officials found foraging tubes made by the Heterotermes termite species within the landmark. In addition to that, damaged wood and signs of infestation were found in multiple below-ground rooms. Despite this damage, a subsequent investigation did not turn up a presence of termites. Eventually several more non-branching termite tubes were found suspended from ceilings in multiple rooms. Eventually, and after suffering much damage, the landmark was saved by a large scale extermination program. A recent survey has revealed that the island of St. Croix contains eleven different endemic species of termite. It is only a matter of time before these tropical termites cause further damage within the National Historic site.
Do you think that more termite related damage will appear in St. Croix in the future?