Termite damage may be hard to recognize, even in the most heavily infested homes. In fact, termite-infested wood often appears to be unharmed, and the termites infesting the wood are usually nowhere in sight. Termite-infested wood often appears normal since termites only excavate inner areas of wood, while leaving the external wood surface mostly intact. It is for this reason that pest control professionals first search for signs of a termite infestation during an inspection as opposed to searching for termite damage structural wood. Signs of subterranean termite infestations include the presence of mud tubes along the sides of structures and the presence of termite fecal matter (frass) near structural wood. Considering that termite infestations often go unnoticed for a period of time before being discovered, having regular termite inspections within a home is sometimes the only way of saving a home from a termite attack. Before the pest control industry emerged, termite damage to structures would sometimes go unnoticed until the entire structure collapsed due to years of termite damage. As you can imagine, in the pre-pest control era living in a home could be somewhat frightening, as it could collapse at any moment due to a long-running and unknown termite infestation.

Back in 1876, a wooden bridge in Salem collapsed due to what was likely decades worth of termite damage to the bridge’s structural wood. Unfortunately, a herd of cattle had been crossing the bridge as it collapsed. The weight of the cattle was certainly beyond the bridge’s compromised capacity. This bridge was later reconstructed with entirely new materials. That same year, in Cambridge, the timber beams supporting the ceiling of a workshop gave out due to the termite damage that the beams sustained. Although this workshop was used frequently by workers at a  local business, Alvin and Sons Instrument Makers, nobody in the workshop ever suspected that the entire building would collapse solely due to a bunch of tiny bugs. While such incidents are unlikely to occur today, it is still a bad idea to skip your annual termite inspection.

Have you ever heard of a home or building collapsing as a result of termite damaged structural wood?