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Re: GSBN:PhD. entomologist pursuing info re: termites v. straw(bale)

Although I can't answer questions about Austin Texas termites, I want to watch this discussion unfold.

Termites are not a problem here in the Pacific Northwest .  We say that dry rot gets our wood before the termites. It seems to also hold true for
our straw bale buildings. Now on a straw bale project in Saudi Arabia I have to design for termites without using heavy insecticides, just using
the old fashion termite shield between the foundation and straw bales.

A Saudi investigation report on an old adobe structure north of Riyadh (central Saudi Arabia) alerted me to the presence of termites in the area.
Their investigation found the straw used in the adobe completely eaten by these critters. And, I thought it would be fun to be able to use earthen
plasters, instead of cement stucco, on the straw bale walls for a change.

I'll look forward to seeing what information comes from your question.


Christopher Stafford Architects, Inc.
1044 Water Street, #326
Pt. Townsend, WA 98368
360/379-8541, fax 379-8576


> (note:  My wife Jeanine is not on the GSBN list.  I'll forward any
> replies to her, of course, though you're also invited to CC her with
> any responses. )
> From: Jeanine Christensen jeanine@...
> Subject: PhD. entomologist pursuing info re: termites v. straw(bale)
> Need some advice here. I've been talking to Dr. Doudou Faye (formerly of
> Senegal) about our termites. He came out, diagnosed our problem and
> recommended some heavy-duty pyrethrins/pyrethroids to get rid of the evil
> bugs. (Lord I cannot wait to build and then move out of this conventional
> house!  Yeeesh.)
> Faye has purchased land outside the Austin city limits (meaning no code
> restrictions), and is *very* seriously considering strawbale construction.
> I asked what termites (Formosan et alia) do to the cellulose in straw. I
> meant species peculiar to this region--or soon to be, in the case of the
> Formosan termites.
> Faye didn't know, and further, he was extremely interested in either
> setting up some kind of study or finding out if anyone else has ever
> attempted to study this question. Enlightened self-interest. After all,
> what self-respecting entomologist would want to build a home that some pest
> would just love to cohabitate?
> I told him sb has had fire tests, quake tests, compression tests, etc. but
> could not recall for him any testing vis-a-vis pests. Wouldn't insurance
> companies want to know this stuff too? If no study exists, how might one go
> about setting up a relationship (or... *sponsorship*..?) with the proper
> [gov't?] agency responsible for promulgating such info? The man clearly has
> the intellectual rigor, the passion and the right creds to do a proper
> test, IMO.
> I note in the recent Last Straw (p. 37) the "Building Official's Guide to
> Straw-bale Construction" (Lerner, Goode eds.) so I am also asking you,
> Kate, if there is any info contained in that book that deals specifically
> with pests (insects and others) and sb homes. Faye already knows about the
> itch mites. I think what we're looking for are the really destructive
> critters that will render a good structure unsound.
> Thanks for letting me pick y'all's collective brains,
> j9
> --
> Bill Christensen
> billc@...
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