Bug Busters

BY CAROLINE ROBERTS, Conservator, Kelsey Museum of Archaeology

Conservators at the Kelsey Museum wear many hats, and one of them has a scared-looking bug printed on it. That’s because in addition to documenting and treating objects in the collection, Suzanne and I oversee the Kelsey’s Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan.

The goal of IPM is to prevent or mitigate damage to the collection due to pest activity through preventive action, monitoring, and (whenever possible) pesticide-free intervention. In implementing our Museum’s IPM plan, Suzanne and I look out for and identify insect infestations and other pest activity at the Kelsey. This task might make some cringe, but I’ll confess – I enjoy being the Museum’s bug watcher. And I really enjoy the part where I get to identify bugs – especially when the bug is carefully trapped and presented to me by a vigilant Kelsey colleague, as below.

 

Recently, I noticed a particularly tiny bug on a few of our sticky traps. To the naked eye it looked like a speck of dust. But under the microscope their little insect bodies were immediately apparent. The would-be wood dust specs are in fact minute brown scavenger beetles, a type of beetle that eats mold (gross)! I suppose there’s no accounting for taste. But these bugs are considered ‘museum pests’, so we are keeping a close eye on them.

So, Kelsey colleagues – if you find a suspicious bug on the premises, you know who to call.

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