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Subject: Pest control

Pest control

From: Mary Baughman <m.c.boffman>
Date: Thursday, May 2, 1996
Patti Emami <emamip [at] ci__sj__ca__us> writes

>...I've been asked to
>see if anyone has any information regarding the effects of
>fumigants upon old/rare print material collections.  Is it safe
>for the collection, or can the chemicals destroy sensitive
>materials, etc.?

I know of no poison which can safely and effectively kill insects
*in* collection materials. When it is appropriate (and for most
paper based materials it is usually appropriate) we kill bugs by
freezing the materials.

The storage space should be thoroughly cleaned while the materials
are in the freezer and weather stripping measures installed to make
the storage area less accessible to bugs. Proper humidity and
temperature will also serve to diminish insect reproduction. Good
house keeping is the *most* important insect control measure.

Specifically addressing your question, I have some citations about
natural history materials and the cases housing them damaged by
Vapona strips. In this instance the insecticide is not used directly
on the materials or the storage case, but the vapor gets into them

More importantly, the problem with insecticides is that anything
effective enough to kill all stages of a variety of insect life (you
have not identified the "little creatures") will also be harmful to

The trick to killing bugs is to kill the egg stage (the most
difficult to kill). Since it is hard to predict when eggs are
hatching out larvae, repeated applications of a mild poison  would
be necessary. Still more daunting, many insects which damage paper
based materials, (drugstore beetles for example)  spend most of
their lives *inside* collection materials. It would be very
difficult for an insecticide to make contact with the larvae or

Freezing is really the best and safest option unless you have access
to a chamber which could be filled with Nitrogen gas. That treatment
kills bugs in materials which can't withstand freezing.

Mary Baughman
Assistant Book Conservator
Harry Ransom Humanites Research Center
University of Texas
PO Drawer 7219
Austin, Texas 78713-7219
Fax: 512-471-9646

                  Conservation DistList Instance 9:73
                    Distributed: Sunday, May 5, 1996
                        Message Id: cdl-9-73-008
Received on Thursday, 2 May, 1996

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