Another danger to your collection resulting from summer’s high humidity is pest invasion. High RH levels encourage moisture-loving insects to colonize your collection storage areas. Not all are “heritage eaters,” as one conservator has termed them. But it is good to monitor these critters and do your best to identify and ultimately control those that could be damaging your collections.
Among the biggest summer threats are silverfish and cockroaches. Like mold, both thrive in warm, dark spaces. Both love to eat musty paper and cardboard and can become major forces of destruction. Silverfish, especially, need high RH levels to survive. Other bugs, such as roly polys (crustaceans, not insects) love humid environments, and although they do not pose a threat to your collection, their presence can serve as a warning sign that conditions are ripe for a silverfish infestation.
The same bi-weekly summertime inspections of storage areas that we recommend to guard against mold outbreaks can be helpful in determining whether an insect problem exists. If there is an infestation, you will either see the insects themselves, their leavings (frass, egg sacks, casings), or damaged areas on artifacts. To help you spot harmful bugs before significant losses occur, place sticky traps along baseboards and windowsills. Identify the numbers and types of bugs stuck to the trap regularly. Resources such as www.museumpest.net and NC State University’s Entymology Department, http://www.cals.ncsu.edu/entomology/bug, can help if you are not sure about the pest or the collection danger it may pose.
You may want to order CatchMaster insect traps. One integrated pest management expert recommends these because their pup-tent-style design facilitates identification and their perforation allows separation into thirds. The following link is one source for purchase: http://diybugstore.com/inc/sdetail/811/1425
Of course, North Carolina’s varied geography and climate means that different parts of the state will experience different insect threats. For instance, the mountain areas have few roach problems, while roaches in the Piedmont and Down East grow to nearly mouse size and fly! We’d love to hear from around the state about battles you may be waging against heritage eaters and methods you’ve found to be successful in keeping them at bay.
Posted on July 27, 2011, in cleaning, collections care, collections management, storage, Uncategorized and tagged armadillae, CatchMaster traps, heritage eaters, high RH, NCSU Entymology Dept., silverfish. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.