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GSBN: Digest for 11/26/03

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-> Fwd: CASBA_Mem attn: Richard Fagerlund  straw bale, mold and  bugs 
     by Catherine Wanek blackrange@...


Date: 26 Nov 2003 01:09:28 -0600
From: Catherine Wanek blackrange@...
Subject: Fwd: CASBA_Mem attn: Richard Fagerlund  straw bale, mold and  bugs 

FYI-- an interesting reply to a good question, and a shockingly uninformed 

>From: "John Swearingen" johns@...
>To: home@...
>Subject: CASBA_Mem attn: Richard Fagerlund  straw bale, mold and bugs
>Date: Tue, 25 Nov 2003 09:30:41 -0800
>X-Mailer: Microsoft Outlook IMO, Build 9.0.2416 (9.0.2910.0)
>Importance: Normal
>Sender: owner-casba-members@...
>Dear Mr. Fagerlund,
>Your response to the inquiry about little bugs in a straw home was most 
>likely correct in assuming they were plaster beetles, which live inside 
>the walls, incorrect in most other respects.
>Plaster beetles require high moisture conditions to survive.  These 
>conditions exist on the surface of the bales (and in wood-frame buildings) 
>for a period of time after plaster is applied, since plastering is a very 
>wet process.  After the house is occupied, the walls gradually dry out and 
>the plaster beetle population disappears.  (Note that these critters are 
>called plaster beetles not straw beetles , since they exist as a result of 
>the plastering process, not because bales are used in construction).
>Likewise, mould, too, requires very high levels of humidity to grow, and 
>we ve had no experience with mold growth in any of our buildings, even in 
>damp coastal climates.  For further information and data, I would refer 
>you to the websites of John Straube, PhD, professor of Building Envelope 
>Science at University of Waterloo and an expert on moisture in buildings: 
><http://www.balancedsolutions.com/>www.balancedsolutions.com and 
><http://www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/beg/>www.civil.uwaterloo.ca/beg/. His 
>primer on moisture fundamentals and mould may be of particular interest to 
>you. The California Straw Building Association (CASBA) also maintains a 
>web site at: <http://www.strawbuilding.org/>www.strawbuilding.org, and can 
>be contacted for information and referrals.
>Yours truly,
>John Swearingen
>Principal, Skillful Means, Inc.
>November 22:
>Q: I have a fairly new house. It is straw bale construction with stucco 
>outside and structolite stucco inside. I have been finding a tiny bug. It 
>is about the size of a pin head. It doesn't move much, so it looks like a 
>speck of dust, but when probed, it moves some. They like to gather inside 
>dishes and bowls on the counter, in the sinks, etc. I first noticed them 
>on the sides of a small Mexican ceramic sink in the bathroom. Then I found 
>a bunch in a new set of glass bowls that had white thin foam separating 
>each bowl. They seem to like white things best. Sometimes I see them on 
>the walls.
>A: You are finding plaster beetles. These little beetles feed on mold 
>inside the walls of straw bale homes. There is absolutely nothing you can 
>do for them. As long as there is straw, there will be mold, and these 
>beetles will be present. You cannot eradicate them with pesticides because 
>you can't get the pesticides to the source. When you buy a straw bale 
>home, you will have plaster beetles (and probably book lice and other 
>mold-feeding insects). They come with the house. Fortunately they don't do 
>any damage, don't bite and are just a nuisance by their presence.


End of Digest

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