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by Wendy Stackhouse · October 14, 2013

Columbus Had Termites!

Columbus Ships

We are reading a lot of articles about Christopher Columbus this lovely fall Monday, most of them not very kind and quite a few debunking myths of his heroism. Among them, however, we found one which told us something interesting about Columbus' fourth voyage to the New World.

Christopher Columbus made his 4th voyage in 1502 at the ripe old (at the time) age of 51. He had four ships: Capitana, Gallega, Vizcaína and Santiago de Palos. He was not made welcome in his old haunt of Hispaniola, but while he was there he warned the local administrators about an approaching storm. They chose to ignore his warnings and sent off 28 ships to Spain, only 4 of which arrived safely. Columbus' ships were badly battered, but he could continue on.

The small fleet proceeded to explore the coast of Central America, encountering many native cultures but seemingly having learned some lessons from previous trips, not getting very involved with them.

In 1503, Columbus' ships began to fail. They had survived a hurricane, but could not survive termites! They managed to reach Santa Gloria, but then had to give up and pull the ships apart to make shelters and fortifications--they could not stay afloat. Columbus and his crews spent a year there, luckily making peace with the native peoples, before they were rescued.

It's a good thing that if you have termites in your house, it won't sink and you won't drown, but termites can certainly make a house unlivable. We would like to think that heat treatment would have helped Columbus like it could help you:

According to the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the only two effective methods for total (whole-house) eradication are fumigation and heat. The heating process introduces clean, dry heat into a structure, gradually increasing the temperature until the inside temperature is between 140 and 150 degrees and the wood core reaches 120 degrees. Technicians then maintain the temperature at or above that level for 1.5 hours to ensure a complete kill. The entire procedure may be completed in as little as 8 hours, but varies from one structure to another depending on factors such as the building’s construction and the weather conditions. The procedure may not be effective for structures that cannot be heated evenly.

Not sure we could heat a ship evenly enough, but for a residence, heat has great advantages over fumigation: no dangerous pesticides or chemical residue; no need to move out for days; no need to bag up or throw away food or have all of your upholstery an other textile belongings cleaned. Heat treatment can be done in one day. If you discover that you have termites anywhere in California, contact us!

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