One of the interesting things I have noticed out at the replica pithouse at Steam Pump Ranch in Oro Valley, Arizona, is the amount of termite damage to the ramada we built next to the pithouse. We built the ramada of mesquite. The four main support poles and all the roof beams showed considerable termite damage. The outer white wood of most of the logs was thoroughly riddled with holes, and some logs had quite a few holes into the inner dark wood. Two of the roof beams were so chewed up that they had cracked and broken. The weight of the adobe on the roof when wet added to the failure of the termite-riddled beams.
Oddly, at least to my mind, the pithouse itself has very little visual evidence of termite damage to the ponderosa pine logs used for its main support beams and all the leaners around its edges.
We did not implement any kind of termite control to the ramada or the pithouse. Do termites prefer mesquite? Is pine not as tasty?
Possible reasons for the difference in infestation:
- We removed the bark from the pine, but did not remove bark from the mesquite.
- The pine logs had dried quite a bit before they were set into the ground.
- The mesquite logs were freshly cut and still green. Did this make the wood easier for the termites to eat?
- The pine logs were cut green and likely had sap in them as they dried. Perhaps termites do not like the taste of the pitch?
- The species of termite present has an affinity for one kind of wood and not the other.
I’m looking forward to your answers, comments, or suggestions! Thanks.
Allen has openings in his upcoming flintknapping classes. Click here to find out more.