C2CC Identifying Museum Insect Pest Damage and Addressing it with Integrated Pest Management


Elsa, go ahead
whenever you’re ready. OK. Thank you, Mike. Hello, everyone. Welcome. I’m Elsa Huxley from
Heritage Preservation. And we are so glad that
you’re joining us today. Heritage Preservation is
moderating the Connecting to Collections online
community in cooperation with the American Association
for State and Local History, and with funding from the
Institute of Museum and Library Services. This site is
designed and produced by Learning Times, who are
producing this event today. The goal of the
online community is to help smaller museums,
libraries, archives, and historical
societies quickly locate reliable preservation
resources and network with their colleagues. In developing the
community, we have drawn on many resources
that were developed for the Connecting to
Collections initiative, including the Connecting
to Collections bookshelf, and the Raising the Bar
workshops and webinars. And we have links to
those resources filed under the topics menu on
the site, which is again, at connectingtocollections.org. We will also be filing that
recording of today’s webinar there if you want to share it
with colleagues in the future. About twice a month,
the Connecting to Collections online community
features a particularly helpful preservation resource. And we host a webinar
related to it. The resources that we
posted for today’s webinar can be accessed by clicking
this photo on our web page, not in this presentation,
or by going directly to the web page– that
connectingtocollections.org. So today we want to welcome
Barbara Cumberland, who is a conservator, the
conservator of Museum Conservation Services
at the Harpers Ferry center at the
National Park Service. And Carol DiSalvo, integrated
pest management coordinator at the National Park Service. And I want to thank
them for taking the time to answer your questions today. Barbara and Carol, would
you like to say a few words? Sure. This is Carol. Thanks, Elsa. I’ll start off. Good afternoon, everyone. And thanks Elsa and
Mike for having us. This is a real treat for me
to be on the phone doing this, because I love this
type of interaction. And it’s nice to hear what
the field’s working on. I’ve been with the
National Park Service– oh gosh– almost 30 years now,
and in the integrated pest management program. And our main mission
for this program is to reduce risks from pests
and pest management-related strategies. So my job involves all
different types of pest issues that come up through the phone
or through technical assistance requests from all
different types of areas, from bedbugs to weeds to skunks,
all types of different things. And of course, the
museum pest world. We have to manage
things in accordance with federal law and policy. And we try to come up with the
lowest risk and most effective management strategy,
and really try to find the actual problem
that’s causing the pest issue, rather than just
treat the symptoms. I have always enjoyed working
with the museum folks, because they seem
to right away grasp this concept, because they
know if something gets damaged, that’s it. You know, the damage is there. You can’t go replace it. It’s a one-of-a-kind
type item, usually. And through this work, I’ve
met Barbara Cumberland. And she has become the
museum pest expert. I deal with all
different types of stuff. But Barbara, we go to her
for our specific issues. And the one thing we
do share in common is we both enjoy these
little critters and things that are affecting our items. And we’ll go through this step
process in a little while. But we both do appreciate
the little lives of these critters that are
in our museum collections. So Barbara. Hi. How are you? Yeah. I have been working for
the National Park Service at Harpers Ferry Center
in the museum conservation lab for museum conservation
services since 1988. And what we do here
in my job in general is we have conservators that
do conservation treatments on museum objects
from national parks from all over the country. The majority of
them are from things going on exhibit in
the national parks, either in a conventional museum
exhibit or a historic furnished building, or that kind of thing. And one of the big
preservation issues is damage from museum pests. It’s one of the agents
of deterioration that we talk about. And I’ve just noticed that a
lot of the things that we do need to do hands-on conservation
treatments [INAUDIBLE] especially our
textile conservator. An awful lot of time and effort
goes into repairing damage from things like clothes moths
and carpet beetles on flags and woolen uniforms, and
different things like that. And we also see it with
our furniture conservators working on things with
wood-boring beetle holes in them. So sometimes things come
into the conservation labs with these problems, or
with active infestations. And we have to do
something about it and prevent the pests from
going on other objects. And otherwise,
I’ve kind of become the integrated pest
manager coordinator for our conservation
labs building. That involves doing pest
monitoring and a lot of things that we’ll be
talking about today. And it’s just become a
real interest of mine. And I’ve had the opportunity
to actually travel to different national
parks and help them with integrated pest management
plans for their museums, and seeing such a wide
variety of problems that it’s really
interesting to try to come up with a safe
management solutions to these kinds of issues. We’ll be talking a little
bit about that today. So briefly that’s my background. I’m and objects conservator. And I work on a variety
of materials and things from metal to leather to
fiber and all different kind of things. So anyway. I’ll be showing you some
pictures of things too. Thanks. Thanks. Thanks, Carol and Barbara. I know this is going to be a
very interesting conversation. And some of those pictures
are really disturbing. Here we go. I will be polling over a poll. It’s actually not a poll. It’s a general question for
everyone to start us off. We’d like to know what your
biggest pest problem is. Fill in that blank
at the bottom there. Dirt daubers. What are dirt daubers? Mud daubers. Dirt daubers. I’m thinking that those are
probably mud dauber wasps. Bees in the wall. Interesting variety. OK. Thank you, Angela. Does all of this sound like
what you would be expecting, Barbara? Yes. And more. Looks familiar. Those little flying black bugs. Hm. Yeah. Those are bad. They’re innocent until
proven guilty, however. You’ll find that Carol
will at every opportunity stick up for the bugs and their
right to live out in nature. And I will say, yes. But keep them out
of our museums. Which links us to this
webinar as to the conditions conducive to pests. You folks have quite
a good list here. I would like a
copy of this list. I will be saving it. I’ll pull it off of the screen. But it will be saved
in the background. So we can re-pull it back up. And we can definitely copy and
paste and keep it for later. Right. All right. Everybody, thank you so
much for these responses. I’m gonna pull this away. And I’m going to pull
up now the Conserve O Gram that’s the basis for
our conversation today. It’s been posted
on the Connecting to Collections website. And it should be
downloadable, too. As I pull this over,
you’ll see an icon in the left corner
that has a disk. And you should be able to
capture it there if you like. Barbara, Carol,
did one of you want to say something about this? It should be pulling
up right now. Yes. This is one of the
Conserve O Grams put out by the National Park Service. And they are all
available on the internet. And aside from this
one, there are a number of others that do have to do
with pest issues and pesticide issues, pesticides that have
been used in museum collections before. So when you get into the
National Park Service Conserve O Gram website, I think most
of the Conserve O Grams dealing with pests are in section
3, and also section 2, which have to do with
curatorial safety. So anyway. This is a very nice
Conserve O Gram that has some good color
photos and a brief description of the kind of museum
pests that a lot of you are likely to deal with. So it’s a good introduction
into identifying the damage from these kind of museum pests. I hope you all get
a chance to read it. And I just posted the URL
for the table of contents for your Conserve O Gram– Thank you. –in the chat box. Yeah. It’s a really good resource. And you’ll find a
lot of, as I said, a lot of ones having to do
with pesticides and pests in Sections 2 and 3. section 3 is on agents
of deterioration. OK. I could pull over that
the IPM authorities, if you’re ready for that. Sure. That sounds good. We’d like to show you our
list of IPM authorities. And we put this together for our
National Park Service managers. But many of these things, most
of them, apply to everybody. We, like most
organizations, have to operate under certain
authorities and rules and regulations. So this is a not
100% complete list. But a pretty good list that we
updated recently in January, I guess it was, on the different
types of laws, regulations that we have to follow
when we’re managing any type of pest issues. And under the Federal
Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act,
that’s the top one there is kind of
the key law that established this whole
integrated pest management effort. And it was also supported
through the 1979 Presidential Memorandum through
President Carter. And the whole started
because after World War II we had an awful lot of
pesticides available. And they were used everywhere
to manage pest issues. And they were very effective. But then we started
seeing negative effects to people, our resources,
and the environment. And that’s when the
brakes kind of came on. Silent Spring with Rachel
Carson came out earlier, and made everybody alert
to what’s going on. So this is just a list
that everybody can kind of use as a guide as to why we use
this integrated pest management approach. But the key reason we use
it is the fact it works. And we’ll talk a little
bit about the IPM process in the next few minutes here. Thanks, Elsa. OK. Oh, you’re welcome. I’ll pull over the
11-step process next. So the 11-step process
that’s coming up next is, it’s pretty much a
decision-making process of common sense written down
in 11 steps, essentially. We put this together with the
Fish and Wildlife Service. And many other agencies use it. If you look on any
extension website from any community
or state college, everybody has some sort
of a step process on IPM. We happen to have 11 steps. And that’s what we’re
going to go over here. But we’re not going to go
over each and every one, because it will take forever. And those of you who
have been in our class on the National Park
Service know that we do this for a whole week. So Barb and I thought we would
focus on a couple of key points that have to do with
this particular webinar. So the first step, which
is really important, is you have to know your
site management objective, and figure out what your short
and long-term priorities are, because for instance,
if you have mice running through the museum, you
have to get rid of the mice immediately, maybe
through snap trapping. And the long-term thing
would be to figure out how to exclude them permanently. But there are times you
have to take quick action, and then plan for the future. The next step is
to build consensus. Of course, you have to
have everybody in place. You have to have
everybody on board. Or you’re not going
to get anywhere. You need to have consensus. Always document in
Section 3 your actions. Number 4 is very important. And we are going to
elaborate on that one, which is to know your resource. You are responsible for whatever
type of museum situation you’re in or artifacts. And you have to know
that resource intimately. You must know everything about
the site that you store it in. You must know how
things come in and out. You have to know what
type of material you have. And Barbara has some
great slides on that. But you have to look at
your building or your site as a living system, because
inside that building, even inside each little
display case, there is its own little site ecology. How air flows, how heat and air
come in and out, or cool air. What the material
is made out of. What your little critter or
fungus or whatever the pest is, what they need to survive. You have to know everything
about them– where they like to hide, what they like to eat,
who may be a predator on them. If they’re a symptom
or if they’re actually a cause of the problem. So we’ll focus on
Number 1 Number 4, and then the next one,
Number 5, know your pest. And that’s the one we’re
going to really focus on in this webinar. Our definition of
pest is something that’s interfering with your
site management objectives. So once you know
what you’re supposed to be responsible for,
if it’s interfering with that action or
that responsibility, it’s considered a pest. Critters or fungus or
whatever the pest is could be a pest in one
situation and not in another. Depends on all the
site characteristics. So you know, you’re a pest here. But you may not be a pest there. But we must know and remember
that these little things that are called pests are doing what
nature intended them to do. So the fact that they’re
affecting our items means we’ve given
them a condition where they are happy and want to
pursue their little biology that they have to employ. So it’s our job to
figure out how to make it non-conducive to them. So we’ll look at what type of
potential pest species we have, know their biologies
and the conditions conducive to support the pest. Number 6 is very important. Monitoring, so you figure out
if you’re getting anywhere with your actions. And not just the
pest population. We’re also going to monitor
environmental factors and other things that are
happening in that site. Number 7– establishing
action thresholds. Figure out at what point no
additional damage can happen are you going to
lose the resource. So you have to figure out how
much you can tolerate or not. But often in the museum
world, your threshold is zero, because you have
that one item that is unique. Action thresholds are
different in different types of situations, such as
like natural wild areas. Step 8. Barbara will touch on a
couple of those things. And I’ll chime in as well. Different management
tools that are available. We try to review all
the tools available, and then pick out
the best ones that are going to help to
manage that situation. Sometimes physical
strategies will be better, or cultural strategies,
biological control agents, possibly, or chemical
pesticides strategies. So there’s different types
of strategies available. And we have to
identify which would be the best complex of those. And using them together
is the integrated approach with all these other steps. Number 9 is important,
very important. You have to define
who’s going to do what. Because if you
don’t, people don’t know who’s taking care of what
aspect of the pest management strategy. If you have someone taking care
of the building, maintenance staff, they know
they need to know where your snap traps are put. They need to know if you have a
leak somewhere, because that’s creating moisture. You have to really
involve the right people. And things need to be carried
out in accordance with policy. Number 10. Of course, you must evaluate
how you’re doing your results, and modify the strategy if
necessary to reach your goals and protect your resource. And number 11 is pretty
much what we’re doing today. Education and outreach and
continue the learning cycles. So it’s great to see all
the examples you guys gave, cause that helps
us to see what else is happening in the field
with new and different, we learn from each other. OK. That’s it. Elsa, thanks. OK. We have one or two questions
that have come in now. I wonder if we could
address those before we went into the presentation. Here, I’ll put this
one from Peter Olson, asking about if there is
some sort of a poster that pictures typical pests. Are you aware of something
like that we could share? Yes, we are. There is a good poster
with illustrations of many of the museum pests
available from a company called Insects Limited, which
is also on the internet. And the poster can be ordered
from insectslimited.com, I think it is. And I think there might be a
link to that on this program. I’ll find it and put it up. Oh, there. [INAUDIBLE] Yeah. That’s the poster that
comes to mind for me. Yeah. [INAUDIBLE] that it has
a lot of other great items for museum issues. I think we listed some of
them in that reference. OK. And then we have one
more question here. Mike, is that OK if I
put that one up here? So. [INAUDIBLE] Can you see that? I did. And it went away. But hi, Eloise, it’s Carol. How you doing? I see it. Hi. We are looking to learn more
about possible treatments for webbing and case-making
clothes, moth infestation in upholstered antique vehicles. Is there anything more
effective and comprehensive than our current
vacuuming and freezing, removing seats and mats
to place in the freezer? And is there anything
out there that could provide residual protection? I have an idea about that. I was recently doing an
integrated pest management plan– museum integrated
pest management plan for one of our parks that
had that problem, except it wasn’t the clothes moths. They had carpet beetles
eating their upholstery in the antique vehicle. And I suggested if possible
that they could roll it out of the garage into the sun
on one of those hottest days of the year. And you know how
on the hottest days of the year, how the
interior of a vehicle can get very, very hot inside? And heat is also a way
of killing most insects. If you can get the
temperature inside the vehicle like over 120 degrees, which is
common on these really, really hot days like we’re
getting in the East right now, and in the
Midwest too, that might be a good
thing to think about. I don’t know if
that’s a possibility with your antique vehicles. But you know, again, it’s
something to think about. Your vacuuming and freezing,
just keep on vacuuming and do that. And you know, freezing, that
would kill the insects also. And you might also get a
clothes moth pheromone lure and put a couple of those
inside the vehicles. That would hopefully
attract any of the adults before they lay more eggs. That might be another thing. Carol, can you think of any? That’s what I
would come up with. I think those are
great excellent ideas. And the idea of parking things
in the sun is a good idea. It would get most of them. I think a lot of
them, though, would try to migrate
where it’s cooler, in the little micro habitats
that you still might have residual populations. So it would definitely knock out
the majority, though, for sure. Hopefully that might
be a possibility where their vehicle
could be moved out into the sun this time of year. We have a question
about pheromone traps. Yes. There are pheromone
lures available that rather than like
a passive sticky trap, they would actively
draw certain insects in. It’s more or less a bait. And it’s species-specific. And pheromone traps
are available for some of the museum pests like I think
both case-making clothes moths, webbing clothes moths,
several of the Dermestid species like varied
carpet beetle, black carpet beetle, trogoderma,
which is like a cabinet beetle. I think drugstore beetle, which
is a cellulose-eating pest. I think cigarette
beetle, which is also a cellulose-eating pest. They could be used
in museum storage, or in a museum exhibit. You’d want to put it at a
far distance from the doors and windows, just so you
wouldn’t attract anything from outside. And just kind of have it like
in a museum storage room, maybe not right up
against the object, but just outside in the room. And that’s something
that is used in museums. I see you’re thinking
about them for moths. So yeah. They do have the pheromones
for webbing clothes moth and case-making clothes moths. And they’re also available from
that company Insects Limited. They just to seem to be the
major supplier of pheromone lures that I’m aware of. I guess we might add that if
you have these traps set up, don’t rely on them 100%,
though, because you still need to do other methods to make
sure you’re not getting damage and monitoring and all that. But it is a great too. Yeah. And they are basically
intended as a monitoring trap. Although they can provide
some degree of control by attracting the
insects into the trap. So they’re not alive anymore. I see that you’re
bringing up– are we going to another question? Or did you want to
go to the slides that are coming up on the screen? Since we have another question
up now, let’s answer that one. And then we have the slides. And we can start going
through the slides. But I just I want to encourage
the audience that if you have questions as they occur to you,
as we’re going through this, do keep putting them in. We’ll address some of
them as we go through, and some we will
reserve for after. Yeah. Yeah. But here we have this
one about bed bugs. Could you address that one? Bed bugs. My favorite. I can email you
stuff if you like. But then I’ll tell
you right off the bat, there’s a great website. It’s called BedbugCentral.com. And it’s one of the
best ones we’ve found. We’ve had the
proprietor of the site teach us in the
National Park Service the best strategy for
managing bed bugs. There are little traps called
interceptor traps, which are normally used on beds. And essentially there’s
no chemical involved. They’re just smooth
surface cups. And they go underneath
your bed legs. And the critters can’t
get up to the bed. There are some other bedbug
traps that are very expensive. But they actually give
off carbon dioxide. And you can attract
bedbugs to it. But the whole thing with
bedbugs is really education. And it’s pretty much a whole
gigantic talk unto itself. But there are some
traps out there. It’s kind of a really
big topic to get into. The good thing is that they
do not transmit any disease. They’re more of a
icky type thing. And they have re-emerged
because of the resistance to current pesticides
that we were using. And in the past, we did a
lot of baseboard treatment for cockroaches. And that also got the bedbugs. But we don’t do that anymore
due to health issues. So the bedbugs have resurged. The heat treatment works great. There are portable
ovens you can purchase, which are also on that website. I have a friend who’s every
time his son comes home from college, he
dumps everything from the kids on the
back porch into his oven. Plugs it in outside. It’s a foldable oven. Heats everything the kid owns
before he is allowed back in the house, because they’ve
had bedbugs before in the dorm. I’d be glad to send
information if you want to send us an e-mail. But it’s kind of a really
big topic to get into now. OK. Thanks. Should we start going
through the presentation? Yes, let’s do that. OK. I’ll start flipping
through these pictures up on your screen. The first title page
happens to show a rug from one of our
presidential homes that has been plagued with
case-making clothes moths. And the person is pointing
to the actual larval case that the moth
larva leave behind. And on the right
of the screen, you can see where the
carpet has been damaged. And it’s just a big
problem, because it’s such a large, a very, very
large carpet that they have. And so it’s difficult to
find a freezer to freeze it. And they have
vacuumed and vacuumed. And anyway. They’ve used freezing
and vacuuming as a strategy on
this particular item. And I just want to flip through
a couple of pictures showing some examples of the
kind of things we’re trying to avoid in museums. On the bottom there is damage
by a Dermestid beetle larva to the base of a
horn of a sheep. And it’s actually eaten
into the horn itself, which is the keratin
material that the carpet beetles and the hide
beetles like to eat. Above that is something that has
come into our conservation lab. A chair that they
found that there was a dead mouse inside of it. And it had decomposed. And it had been nesting
inside the chair. And that in turn attracted
other insect pests. It attracted more of
these Dermestid beetles, which I’ll be talking about
they’re protein-eating pests. And to the right
there’s a picture of a book where an
insect has tunneled through all of the pages
and eaten them out. And at first I thought it had
been done by a drugstore beetle that I’ve heard that they
burrow through books. But then since then I’ve seen
that kind of pattern of damage is pretty typical of termites. You know, termites can
come up from the ground and into a box that’s sitting
in contact with the ground, and work its way up
through and eat books and wood and other things. If we had a really
closeup of that, we could tell if it is
termites, because then they would leave the frass
behind, or their excrement, or the stuff that they
chew up and spit out. I think there was some frass. Then it probably is. OK. Yeah. Then natural history
collections are very vulnerable to many pests. And the top shows
examples of feathers that have been eaten by
case-making clothes moths that have actually left those little
white casings from their larva behind. And you can see all the
loss in the feathers. And there were two of these
below butterfly specimens mounted between pieces of glass. And in the one on the
left, varied carpet beetles got in there and have
destroyed the specimen. They just consumed it. And it would just
continue to be consumed because it was still alive
in there, until we put it through a freezing treatment
just so the specimen is gone. But it’s a really
good example to show. Going back to the
11-step process. Could I interrupt
for one second? I’m sorry. I just noticed that we had a
question about clothes moths. And that the photo
on the preceding slide of the feathers, I think,
was from clothes moths damage. I thought that might be a good
opportunity to answer that one. What is the question? The question is,
what do you do when you have an entire
collection that is infested with clothes moths? Vacuuming and freezing
the entire collection, I think, she is not possible. Will traps eventually
reduce the population if they’re used regularly? Do you know what was
done in this case? Or what should be done? A whole collection is infested. Vacuuming and freezing
isn’t possible. Will trap– well,
traps will help. But it is the larval stage
that is eating the thing. It’s not the adult stage. And the larvae are kind of
hiding in your collection there. I’m not sure what
your items are. But if it’s fabric,
you know, they’re likely to be in not obvious
locations, like in pockets or under collars or
on the edges of rugs. And you know,
vacuuming and freezing are some of the best ways of
dealing with clothes moths, rather than relying
on just trapping, even pheromone trapping, just
because you have to kind of go where the pests are. And these kind of pests
are likely to be hiding. And you’re really gonna have
to go through and find them if you really want to
have some kind of control. I’ll be talking
a little bit more about that further
in this slide show. I just wanted to get
through a few more things. And then we’ll
get back to those. In that 11-step process,
that the number one that Carol started talking
about was the pest management objectives for the site. And Number 1, I’m thinking for
the people listening in here are that you want to keep pests
away from your museum objects, because you want to keep them
pest-free if at all possible. Materials need the
most protection, meaning mostly organic objects. And you also want to
keep your buildings as pest-free as possible inside,
so that your collections aren’t at risk. Another site management
objective, at least in the National Parks,
and I’m sure all museums, would be any pests that happen
to be a public health threat would need immediate attention. Like if you had an
infestation of mice or wasps at the entrance to your museum. Or something like that. So I just wanted to
touch on that that’s Number 1 of the 11 steps. Going back to Step 4,
Carol started talking about knowing your resource. Again, know what your
most vulnerable materials are in the collection. Again, the organic materials. And I’ve noticed that
protein-based materials, like [? wool ?] and
taxidermy specimens and feathers and
things like that seem to be a bit more vulnerable
to pests than cellulose. Although cellulose
is also vulnerable. And I guess when you’re
assessing your museum objects in your historic
structures, know the importance of the objects. Like, are they original? Or are they reproductions? Or are they voucher
specimens for natural history collections, which
are very important. You want to provide your
most valuable things with the most secure protection,
especially in museum storage. Those are the things you want
to be sure are in field museum cabinets and things like that. And the ecology of the site. Carol was talking about like
the microclimates and the places where pests can hide. May I interject
one more item here? Certainly. On the site description on
the ecology of the site, you have to really know
where your utilities are, your heating system,
where is the basement, where are the pipe wall
junctions, the electrical lines going in and out, because those
are access points for critters. And they know
they’re access points because they feel air going
through them if it’s not a tight seal. Like sometimes
you’ll have plumbers who will put in a pipe. And there’s like a huge
diameter around there where you can almost put
your fingers through. And that’s a great access point
for mice or other critters. So again, you really need
to know your site history, and exactly everything that’s
going on on that little site, and the people you work with. Thanks, Barbara. And who’s using it. Is the the employee lunchroom
right next to the exhibit? Cause those are things that
you have to think about also, because IPM is a very
interrelated process. And you have to
think like the pest. You have to think like,
what are they looking for? Where do they like to hide? Where are they coming in? And that’s why Step
5, identifying pests, is very important. If you can identify the
pest, then you can learn, is it a museum
pest, for one thing. And museum pests can
be not only insects that we’re talking about
today, but they’re also microorganisms or vertebrates
like mice, rats, birds, and things like that. Anyway. One thing I want to add
to on the pest definition. When you think of
things that are actually damaging our items,
but sometimes they’re just perimeter invaders
that happen to wander on in. And they’re not really trying
to eat any of your items. They just happen to get
in the building looking for a cool space to hang out. But they can become a
source for domestic beetles or other protein-feeding items. So that’s why it’s important to
monitor and have a tight ship. Yeah. And a pest, an organism
that jeopardizes your site objective, in our case,
the site objective would be the preservation of
historic or natural resources. And public education
through your interpreted museum collections. So that’s why these kind
of things are pests to us. And so that’s why we’re becoming
familiar with the museum pests and the damage they do. And you want to know
about their biology. And that could tell
you how to manage them. Like, are they attracted to
light or repelled by light? And sometimes for a museum
pest, if the adult stage would be attracted to
light, and the larval stage would be avoiding light, such
as with Dermestids or carpet beetles. You want to know
how high they fly. What’s their life
cycle and reproduction. What are their food preferences. You know, if it’s
a wood-boring pest, become familiar with
their exit holes and frass to figure
out what kind of pest you’re dealing with. Are they particularly
thigmotactic, meaning most insects and rodents
like to run with their bodies up against a
surface like a wall. But some insects are
even more thigmotactic, like silverfish and cockroaches
and Dermestid larva. They like to squeeze into
little cracks and crevices and corrugations in corrugated
boxes and things like that. And you can all always get
help identifying insects from people like your state
cooperative extension office, entomologists, and then there’s
a lot of really good reference books available now. Let’s see. We’re kind of dividing the
insect pests based on what they eat in your collection. So we have things like
protein eaters, which would be like what’s
pictured here, or the life cycle on top
of the black carpet beetle, from the smaller larva. And then as they grow, the larva
shed their skin several times until they pupate into an adult.
That’s what is showing there. Cellulose eaters. And I’m going to be
talking about these in the next few pictures too. And wood borers, things
that feed on mold, like book lice and spring
tails, things like that. Things that feed on starch,
like silverfish and fire brats. Then omnivores. Things that eat everything,
like cockroaches and crickets. My favorite are
the protein eaters. They’re the ones that I
deal with a lot in my work and in my building. I have in the middle
of the picture I have pictured the larva and
the adult of the varied carpet beetle. And that’s the big
pest in my building. They’ve kind of been
here since the beginning. And all these kind
of pests, they eat museum objects like
feathers, wool, silk, horn, taxidermy, insect
collection, leather, hair. You know, skin products. Things like that. So they are a big
problem in museums. And then the clothes
moths are shown on top. Those are webbing clothes moths. And you know, it shows the
larva, the adult, and also the frass, and then also the
holes that they’re making. This is Carol. I wanted to interject
something about the frass. We mentioned earlier
that it’s the excrement, or in wood critters,
it’s excrement plus what they dig
out of the wood. And the frass is
really important. If you folks are responsible
for managing museum items, which you are, you really should
start a frass collection. Barbara’s got a great
damage collection and a frass collection. And I’ve got a great
frass collection too. And maybe when we get
to the wood pests, we can pop up the
termite frass later on. OK. Yeah, like if we
do a wood section, we’ll pop up that in a minute. Thank you. Yeah. I think I may have to kind of
rush through this a little bit. Because we’re getting
short on time. But anyway. The clothes moths and
the Dermestid beetles, which include carpet
beetles and hide beetles, they’re the only creatures
that can actually digest keratin that’s in
your hair and in your horn. And that’s their
function in nature is to decompose
that when you know, there’s dead animals
out in the woods. But there a very, very
serious damaging museum pest. And spider beetles also were the
protein eaters like that too. And identifying damage. I have a few pictures showing
the kind of typical grazing where they will eat the
surface off of an object before they actually
burrow in and make a hole. And more often it’s the clothes
moths rather than the Dermestid beetles that do this grazing. And the top picture
is like a sueded glove that has grazing and cases
from case-making clothes moths. The middle is a felted wool hat. And then there is a
sheep skin, feathers. And then in the
middle of the bottom there is tunneling from a
hide beetle that has damaged a civil war cartridge box. And at the bottom, there is
civil war woolen hat that’s been grazed by clothes moths. The park service at
one time had a lot of freeze-dried animals
in their exhibits back in the ’80s, instead
of conventional taxidermy. And they were even more
susceptible to the clothes moths and carpet beetles. And this one exhibit, the
three pictures on the left were in one wetlands exhibit. And these items were
just totally destroyed and crawling with insects. And the picture of the little
woodmouse on the bottom was eaten from the inside out
with case-making clothes moths. And it looked like
the little critter was eating a strand of spaghetti. But it was actually pieces
of clothes moths coming out of its mouth. And also the dungeness
crabs were freeze dried. And they had become infested by
both clothes moths and carpet beetles. I want to add one item on
the freeze dried critters. We had learned through
that experience that it’s not good to
freeze dry anything larger than like a squirrel, because
the meat doesn’t ever really freeze. So it’s best to taxidermy
the larger animals. And we’re not using those
freeze dried specimens in any future exhibits
in the park service. I have another picture
showing some more damage to a wool uniform on top. And insect collection
in a museum was totally destroyed by
varied carpet beetles. And the picture
over to the right, I have a little pointer showing
one of the shed larval skins of a carpet beetle. And that’s one of the signs
to look for when you’re trying to identify pest damage. The feather below again,
has the frass and cases from case-making clothes moths. I think I skipped one. I did want to talk about
the cellulose eaters. They eat things like herbarium
collections, basketry, paper, and things like that. And those include insects
like cigarette beetles, drugstore beetles, grain
beetles, and grain moths of various types. And I have a picture
showing a museum exhibit that had real dried corn in it. And that exhibit became infested
with angourmois grain moths. And so that’s why
we do recommend against having any
real food or grain material in museum exhibits. Just a close up of
an herbarium specimen that was damaged by
drugstore beetles. And you can see the holes
in the item and the frass. I’ve also seen live infestations
of cigarette beetles, and also even book lice
in herbarium collections. Once you really
get in and inspect with a blinking light
with a flashlight, you can even see book lice,
which are very, very, very tiny little insects. So you really have
to do inspections. We just have– I’m
sorry to interrupt. But we just have
about 10 minutes left. I was wondering
if we could answer some of the questions
that were in the chat box. OK. Is that all right? Or do you want to go
through one or two more of these before we– we
just have a couple of questions backed up there. OK. Tell me what the questions are. Well, I saw two that
were sort of similar. Are ants and are fleas
considered museum pests? Was that ants? I don’t see the [INAUDIBLE]. The only ants or
fleas that actually feed on museum materials
would be carpenter ants that would feed on wood. Or live in wood. Excavator. Live in wood. But you can find ants
in your collections. It’s good to identify your ants. Cause some are protein feeders. And some are not. So it means they’re getting
into feed on something. So use them as a clue
that something’s going on. OK. OK. And then here’s a question. If you were starting
from scratch, when recommendations
do you have to prepare a new temporary storage
area off-site in preparation for an emergency collections
move of a mixed collection? And that leads into a
different question we had. Yeah. Well, I would always make it
as well-sealed as possible. I guess we can post later. I have a good information
sheet on things when you’re building a
new museum storage area, things to build in from
a IPM point of view. And I can make a point of
having that posted to the site afterwards. OK. Great. We can start that as
a discussion topic. But temporary, you
want to make sure you start out as clean as possible. You might
compartmentalize things that are similar, as well. And I think Barbara’s
reference states that. I did see one of the
questions earlier said they were starting out
with a 30,000 foot building. That was my next one. Yeah. And that’s a huge task. I think the first thing I
would do is get blueprints. And figure out where your duct
work is, and where your in and outs are on the building. Access points. And then figure
out where are you going to put different types of
items, what type of shelving. I’ve seen pretty
low budget places where they don’t have the
money for museum storage cases. But they’ll put
like items together. And then they’ll use
different types of plastic to manage shelves as
mini storage areas, kind of draping plastic around
them so that they can actually create micro habitats, and
keep it dryer in certain areas. So different types of materials. I think you would
recommend sort of attacking all the problems at once, then,
of the different types of– Well, prioritizing. Like Barb said at the beginning. You’ve gotta prioritize
what your items are. If you’ve got protein or
you’ve got cellulose items, that’s the priority. And those should get your
most attention and monitoring. And the more barrier
layers you can put between the outside and
the object and the pest, the better. That’s why we recommend
museum storage cabinets with the good gasketing. Always put your most
vulnerable material in that kind of
sealed environment. The one question
about fleas, too. I wanted to address
that real quick. If you have fleas, that
means something’s living in the building. Or there’s birds or
bats in the attic, or raccoons or something
getting in somewhere in some of the duct work
or between the walls. You don’t want fleas
in the building. First of all, if the animal died
in there, whatever the host is, you’re going to have a Dermestid
beetle issue feeding on them. And you’ll have an odor
issue, which is even worse. But fleas do carry
Bubonic plague, and you just don’t want
fleas in the building. That means something’s going on. They’re another indicator. OK. I just wanted to show you
that the flight of the kind of damage that silverfish do. Again, it starts out as
kind of a gray thing. And they actually eat paper. Their favorite thing
is eating starch. So you find them in
books and book bindings. But they like coated papers. And so these pictures
show– the one on the left shows that they have actually
been eating the instruction sheet from a fumigation
chamber, which is interesting. And on the right
they’ve actually been eating copies of
museum catalog cards. And they have a
really fine frass that’s brown and
elongated, but very fine. So if you see that kind of about
the width of a human hair type frass, that might
be from silverfish. I’ve seen them on a whole
set of Thomas Jefferson books where they ate the binding. Cause they like the starch. For wood-destroying insects–
wood borers and powder post beetles, and things
like that– the larva spends most of their life
tunneling through the wood. So often the only thing you’re
able to see most of the year is their exit holes or the
frass coming out of them. And we have on this
site a good sheet where you can identify
the kind of insect it is from actually the
signs of damage that they do. And it’s important
to identify them so you know whether that
species is likely to re-infest the same wood again. That on the page on
the exit hole, Elsa? If you want to put– Yeah. We are almost at time. Well, first of all, I
can quickly mention this. What you’re looking at here
is dry wood termite frass. And if you look at real hard
and blow it up a little, you can see that each
pellet is six-sided. So normal subterranean termites
that we’re all familiar with, most of us are, do not
create frass like this. This is unique to the dry wood
Western termite, or dry wood termites. They don’t need a
moisture source. So they’re really
difficult to manage. Pretty much only
way to manage them is fumigation or completely
seal them out of the building. So I put it in cause it’s
a real distinct critter. They withdraw as
much water as they can out of the pellet before
they pop the fecal pellet out. It’s a dead giveaway. Yeah. And I saw a question
on diatomaceous earth. That is one of the low
risk kind of pesticides that you can use as
a crack and crevice treatment for museum areas. These low risk pesticidal
dusts like diatomaceous earth, boric acid, or silica
aerogel are things that are pretty safe to use. And they are effective on
many of the museum pests if they come into
contact with them. I don’t know about anybody else. But my screen went blank. Yeah. Mine too. I guess we’re out. I see your question, Vickie. We will be posting
a list of resources that have been discussed here. There is a discussion page on
the connectingtocollections.org web page. And we can continue having
our conversation there. And also, I will be posting
as many of the links as I’ve been able to capture. I think I’ve gotten
pretty much all of them. And I’ll go ahead and let you
post the rest of the pictures from my slide show. Oh, OK. OK. [INTERPOSING VOICES] Thank you very much. Yeah. Thank you. Sorry that we’ve gotten close
to pretty much run out of time here. But there have been
some great questions. And I hope it’s been helpful
for everyone that came here and participated today. I have posted a link
to an evaluation. And I’m hoping that you’ll
take the time to go look at it and let us know your
thoughts about this webinar. We would like to know
what you think worked. And if you have any advice
or further questions, we’d be happy to
respond to those. So I want to thank
Barbara and Carol so much for taking the time
to be here and answer these questions. You’re welcome. Thank you to Learning Time
and ASLA, to the IMLS. And I hope that you will
join us for our next webinar. It’s going to be
on August the 2. And it’s another with this
partnership with the National Park Service. Theresa Ann Voellinger
is going to be speaking to us
about cold storage for photographic materials. And there will be
more information there and on our Facebook
page and on our website. So thanks very much, everyone. Thank you. Thank you.

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