How do I develop a practical pest management approach for my collection?

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Category: Pests
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Posted by Mary Ballard(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 18 January, 2014 5:39 am

Match the pest control to the pest and match the treatment to the particular pest: to where it lives and what it eats, to the museum, to the people who work in the museum, and to the object.

Mechanical and physical control. Decide how to change your museum structure – vents, drains, screens, doors, plants, or windows. For example, to keep birds away, remove vines and bushes from exterior walls; to keep cockroaches away, remove leaves and grass clippings.

Cultural control. Decide how to change people’s work (or eating) habits in the galleries, offices, library, and storage rooms. For example, do not leave food or wrappers in wastebaskets overnight; do not leave dirty dishes in the sink.

Sanitation. Decide how to make living in the museum more difficult for the pest. For example, make sure all windows have screens; to stop cockroaches from coming up around pipes, caulk all openings.

Biological control. Decide if another organism will solve a problem. For example, a cat in the garden might help catch mice.

Chemical control. Try local treatment, specific to the habits of the insect. For example, spray cracks and crevices for cockroaches; then set baited traps in dark corners.

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Posted by Priscilla Anderson(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 18 January, 2014 5:33 am

- A key guiding principle is to reduce the use of chemical pesticides for many compelling reasons, including personal health and safety, environmental impact, cost, effective prevention of (rather than reaction to) pest-related damage, and early warning/response in the event of an infestation.
- Pest management has to be a group effort that requires buy-in from a diverse group of stakeholders, including the highest levels of institution administration, the facilities managers, housekeeping staff, groundskeepers, security managers and patrol staff, pest management experts either within or contracted from outside the organization, curatorial/collection manager/registrarial and support staff, caterers and shop managers, exhibit designers, and human resources staff, as well as conservation/preservation staff.
- Including IPM as a part of an overall risk management strategy may be a way to draw resources to its successful implementation.
- Well-written, approved, distributed, promoted, and enforced policies and procedures are vital to a successful IPM program.
- Species identification is crucial in order to prevent/eradicate; it informs the feeding patterns, reproductive cycles, behavior, and environmental conditions that can be targeted/controlled to ensure successful trapping
- Traps come in various shapes, sizes, and odors (pheromones are species specific, so you have to identify what you have before you purchase the pheromone trap). A “blunder trap” has no pheromone or bait but is just sticky and is placed carefully in the likely path of a pest. A pheromone lure with sticky trap mimics the scent exuded by a specific species of female to attract males. Poisoned bait traps are also used, but you can’t control where the pest goes off to die.
- IPM is a great field for sleuths and puzzlers; but sometimes the answer (i.e. the cause of the infestation) is elusive, so there are some cold cases.
- Common museum pests are mostly moths and beetles, many of which look pretty similar to me so I’d need professional confirmation of my amateur ID; I’m going to seek out and cultivate a relationship with a local entomologist
- Remedial treatments include isolation, temperature (heat and freezing), and anoxia (nitrogen, argon, CO2). CO2 requires a pesticide license. Pesticides and fumigation are the last resorts. Heat treatments can be very cheap (black plastic bag in the sun, car with the windows closed on a hot summer day). Do not use anoxia if you have Prussian blue pigments.
Freeze/thaw/refreeze is *not* necessary; just freezing for the right length of time will do the job
- My own personal observation: squeamishness may diminish when you get up close and personal on a regular basis.

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Posted by Wendy Jessup(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 18 January, 2014 5:23 am

In the early 1980s, a number of trends emerged in museum pest management. While we remained concerned about the damage that the ”critters” were doing to our collections, we started becoming equally concerned about the damage that pesticides might do to our collections. We also became increasingly concerned about the effect that these toxic materials may have on ourselves.

With these concerns in mind, I felt that there had to be a better way for dealing with pest problems in museums. A way where the collections would be protected against the pests, while minimizing their exposure to toxic materials. In 1983, after joining the staff of the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum Support Center where I had the responsibility for developing and managing preventive conservation programs, including pest management, I attended a meeting of federal pest management coordinators. There were only three of us at that meeting. I was the only museum professional, but I was introduced to the concept of Integrated Pest Management (IPM).

Integrated Pest Management is an eco-systems approach to dealing with pest problems. Originally developed for the agricultural and urban pest management communities, it is site specific and adaptable to any application. IPM is information-intensive about the pest, its habits, and the environment in which it thrives and survives. Effective IPM programs reduce pest survival through minimizing those elements essential for pest survival (eg. food, moisture and habitat). Components of any IPM plan include monitoring and identification of the pest, inspection, habitat modification, good sanitation, treatment action, evaluation and education. These components are on-going and cyclical. IPM aims to prevent pest problems from occurring while at the same time reducing the use of toxic materials that may adversely affect the environment and the materials being protected against pests.

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Posted by M. Scott(Questions:33:Answers28)
Answered On 18 January, 2014 5:12 am

Assess the type of pest problem you have by monitoring key areas of the museum, such as the exhibition spaces and storage space, over a continuous period of time throughout the year.
Assess the parts of your collection that are attractive and vulnerable to pest and fungal damage and take appropriate action to protect them.
Assess improvements that can be made to your building to prevent pests from entering through access points such as vents, drains and plants. Include an inspection survey of the building and the house keeping tasks to be carried out.
Assess possible ways of changing people’s habits and improving procedures in order to lower the risk of infestation. This may include limiting areas of food consumption to one isolated area, and inspecting and isolating all incoming items for a period of time before they are placed into storage.
Establish an ongoing IPM program.

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