The following table briefly outlines the insects that are likely to be a problem for heritage collections and what materials they are likely to eat.
(Acknowledgement: a version of this table previously appeared in reCollections, produced by the Commonwealth Department of Communications, Information Technology and the Arts. See Acknowledgements page for more information.)
An informative Australian website can be found at http://www.termite.com/
An informative website hosted by a USA-based commercial pest control company is located at http://www.insectslimited.com/museum.htm
The Ohio State University College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences also has an informative site, at http://ohioline.osu.edu/index.html
All sites have good quality images of, and life cycle information about, a range of common pests.
As well as the obvious health and sanitation concerns, mice, rats and birds can also damage your collections. This can be direct damage through feeding and gnawing on materials, and through stains from their droppings. Or, they can lead to damage indirectly, such as encouraging other insects by providing food and nesting material. Rodents commonly chew through electrical cables, presenting a very real fire risk.
Try to learn which pests are more likely to invade your collection and those pests that pose a particular threat to your collection. For example, if you manage a mineral and gemmological collection, the important documentation labels are at risk of damage through silverfish infestation, even though the specimens themselves may not be susceptible to insect attack. If you manage a textile collection, items will be highly susceptible to a wide range of pest infestation, especially moths and silverfish.
Understanding the conditions that predispose your collection to risks is also half the battle. For example, psocids or book lice are usually found only where there are moist conditions. If your library, archive or manuscript collection shows signs of infestation by book lice, you can be pretty certain that you have a moisture problem, so you should check for faulty plumbing, leaks or rising damp.