Preventive Conservation: Damage from Insects and Other Pests
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Back of a Plains Indian cartridge pouch. The black wool has been eaten by webbing clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella).

 

Pests can cause serious damage to museum specimens and objects, as seen here. Insects, including various beetles, moths and silverfish, are the usual culprits, but rodents and other smallanimals can also cause damage.

Porcupine quills decorating this Plains Indian knife sheath have been severely damaged by dermestid beetles.

To prevent an infestation from occurring, storage areas are regularly monitored with sticky traps. If insects that can damage collections are found, staff can act quickly to prevent a major infestation from occurring.

A chest freezer containing Eskimo fur and skin parkas infested with webbing clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella). In addition to chest freezers, the Peabody Museum also has a large, walk-in freezer for pest control.

Freezing, now the accepted method for dealing with most infested material, is an effective way to kill insects at all stages of their life cycle. It also has the extremely important advantage of not requiring the application of toxic chemicals, which can be harmful not only to specimens and artifacts, but to anyone handling them.