8 November 2023

Tamashiro’s Termites

Late PEPS prof is inspiration for int’l conference

Tamashiro’s Termites

If you’ve ever wondered why some buildings in Hawaiʻi are eaten alive by termites, while others seem to stand the test of time just fine, it might be due to whether the foundation is installed with a Basaltic Termite Barrier.

The patented, non-chemical, subterranean, volcanic rock barrier that is still in use today was invented by the late CTAHR entomologist Minoru Tamashiro. The long-serving researcher is the namesake for the Tamashiro Memorial Symposium, 3rd International Conference of the Subterranean Termite, which was recently held on UHM campus and hosted by the UH Urban & Medical Entomology Lab.

Highlights of the symposium included speakers J. Kenneth Grace and Nan-Yao Su. Kenneth is a CTAHR Researcher Emeritus, Urban Entomologist and former CTAHR Associate Dean for Research, while Nan-Yao is the inventor of the top-selling Sentricon termite-baiting system. He’s also a distinguished professor, CTAHR alum, and donor of a PEPS entomology student scholarship in his name. 

“It was a great honor and pleasure for my UH Urban Entomology Program to host this conference,” says Jia-Wei Tay of the Dept. of Plant and Environmental Protection Sciences. “It was a good opportunity for termite researchers to share their knowledge, and network and form new collaborations.”

She adds, “I hope that the younger generation of agriculture scientists will be interested to work in the field of entomology/termites. It’s a relatively small but nonetheless important discipline.”

Basaltic Termite Barrier is made of volcanic rock ground to a precise consistency, explains Jia-Wei. It is raked and graded to a 4-inch thickness before a slab is poured over it. BTB is also poured around the foundation. Since its invention, it has become standard in all new school, government, and military buildings in the state.

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