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Subject: Integrated Pest Management

Integrated Pest Management

From: Karen Motylewski <nedcc>
Date: Monday, October 4, 1993
Note: this is intended as a very simple, I hope practical, initiation to
the ideas of integrated pest management.

In re the query about preventive fumigation of incoming gifts or other
archival collection materials, I think it's a bad idea to use chemical
fumigants or insecticides unless the situation presents a crisis that
threatens rapid losses or refuses to succumb to more conservative
methods.  It's good instinct to worry about the reaction of metals,
photos, textiles, etc. to both the chemicals that kill insects or mold
and to the bases for application of the toxins.

Most sophisticated collections-holding institutions use integrated pest
management strategies (IPM), and there are simple ones that seem
appropriate to your situation.  The following suggestions are not
comprehensive, but are practical and reasonably effective:

    1.  Examine material immediately to see if there's evidence of
        infestation (already done in this case).

    2.  If there's no evidence of bugs or active mold (live creatures,
        insect droppings, larvae or bodies, fuzzy growths), transfer
        materials to clean archival boxes for storage until you can
        process them. Throw the old boxes away unless they are
        archival-quality and you are absolutely certain they are clean
        (because your donor is another institution with excellent
        collections care practices).

    3.  If at all possible, isolate rehoused, incoming material in an
        isolation space away from other collections until processing.
        Such space should provide preservation conditions:  cool, dry,
        clean, outfitted with shelving, etc., to discourage mold and
        insects.  Reboxing is desirable because silverfish, roaches, and
        a variety of other collections pests love tight dark
        spaces--corrugated cardboard could have been invented by a
        committee of these bugs.  The clean archival boxes can be used
        over and over *for this temporary holding use* as long as the
        contents and boxes continue free of evidence of insects or mold
        growth.  Ideally, of course, incoming material should be
        processed (including any necessary surface cleaning) and
        rehoused in its permanent enclosures promptly.  Realistically,
        processing may be delayed, and the interior of boxes should be
        inspected routinely at least every few weeks.  A "tent" or
        "motel" type sticky trap can be placed on a side wall inside
        each box to improve the certainty of monitoring (obviously, in
        monitoring you would check the trap).

    4.  If there is evidence of insects, talk to a conservator by
        phone--you need more detail than it's practical to give in this
        forum.  Vacuum materials thoroughly, vacuuming the objects
        themselves (assuming they are not deteriorated or fragile)
        through a nylon or other soft screen, using a high-filtration
        vacuum. Discard both filter and disposable bag outside the
        building or in a sealed container provided for food wastes and
        emptied daily. Freezing and oxygen deprivation are being used
        increasingly for insect extermination affecting collections

        Mold can also be vacuumed, but dry damp materials thoroughly
        before cleaning and use a brush to sweep mold into the mouth of
        the nozzle or vacuum through a soft screen.  Ethylene oxide
        (ETO) treatment is commercially available, but is little used
        these days because of its very high toxicity and poorly
        documented "half-life" in library and archives materials.  ETO
        is a fungicide:  it kills both live mold and spores.

        The next common fungistatin (that is, something that kills live
        mold but not dormant spores) is thymol.  Thymol is also toxic to
        people, and there is some evidence that it causes yellowing in
        treated paper on exposure to UV.  Orthophenol-phenol is another
        fungistatin for "home" use--again, it's toxic, and it doesn't
        kill dormant spores.  Providing cool (below about 70 deg.), dry
        (below 50-55%) conditions with good air circulation will do all
        that thymol or opp will do unless you're dealing with a massive
        outbreak, and in the absence of good environment, mold will
        regenerate after treatment with those chemicals.  As far as I
        know, freezing will not kill mold, although there is a rumor
        that vacuum freeze drying may be helpful.  Talk to Mary-Lou
        Florian (604-385-8263) for an authoritative answer.

    5.  All collections need good environmental control.  Combined with
        cleaning, restriction and removal of food (and insect attractors
        like pest carcasses and mold), a well-sealed building or storage
        spaces, and a good sticky-trap-based monitoring program, climate
        control greatly reduces the likelihood of infestations--bar the
        occasional accidental tourist.

See a new publication, "Integrated Pest Management in Museum, Library,
and Archival Facilities: A Step by Step Approach for the Design,
Development, Implementation and Maintenance of an Integrated Pest
Management Program," (James Harmon, 1993, Harmon Preservation Pest
Management, P.O. Box 40262, Indianapolis, Indiana 46240, about $40.00)
for a thorough review of issues and strategies.  WAAC Newsletter has had
some excellent papers on IPM, including Nancy Odegaard's "Insect
Monitoring in Museums" (January 1991), Dale Kronkright's "Insect Traps
in Conservation Surveys," (January 1991), and Daniel, Hanlon, and
Maekawa, "Eradication of Insect Pests in Museums Using Nitrogen
(September 1993).  All are available on CoOL.

Karen Motylewski
Northeast Document Conservation Center

                  Conservation DistList Instance 7:30
                 Distributed: Thursday, October 7, 1993
                        Message Id: cdl-7-30-001
Received on Monday, 4 October, 1993

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