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Subject: Light traps

Light traps

From: Will Jeffers <wjeffers>
Date: Thursday, November 30, 2000
Kory Berrett <kory [at] juno__com> writes

>...  a client of mine with an IPM
>program in place was advised by their pest control contractor to
>consider the purchase and deployment of light traps in their new
>collections storage building.  The part of the building in question
>houses farm tools, gross functional objects, and a few horse drawn
>vehicles.  The traps use low wattage UV lamps as their lure.  You
>can look at one maker's line by visiting <URL:>,
>Whitmire Micro-Gen.  I guess I had dismissed UV attractants out of
>hand for the obvious reasons, but here are my questions.  Has anyone
>seen these put to use in any museum setting?  Has anyone evaluated
>these devices on a risk vs. benefit basis?  Is there a possibility
>of deploying these devices, mitigating against the worst light
>damage with filters, and still realizing the benefits of the trap?

I've been using a Spinsect light trap at the Museum of Fine Arts for
the past two years.

The Spinsect trap, available through McMaster-Carr (Cat #7027T1),
uses a 22-Watt ultraviolet bulb in combination with a small fan, to
attract insects and funnel them into a plastic bag, placed
downstream from the fan.

I don't use this trap as a preventive measure, but instead deploy it
as part of an IPM action plan for particular infestations.  For
instance, last year we began to see large numbers of adult dermestid
beetles in a certain part of our museum.  The infestation was traced
to a dead pigeon that had been inadvertently sealed into the
ductwork of an exhaust system.  After replacing the offending
section of ductwork, and running the exhaust system to help draw the
adult dermestids out of the building, we placed the Spinsect trap
near a fume hood from which the adult dermestids were emerging, and
ran it at night for a couple of weeks.  By the end of two weeks, we
were no longer seeing adult dermestids in the trap, and discontinued
its use.  While the trap was being used, care was taken to ensure
that light-sensitive collections were not in danger of exposure to
UV.  Light-sensitive materials were either covered, or removed from
the immediate area when the trap was in use.

Similarly, I've used the Spinsect trap as part of an IPM strategy to
control mosquitoes in one of our basement areas.  In this instance,
a source of standing water was located and eliminated, and the
Spinsect was used to trap adult mosquitoes.  The Spinsect was placed
in a hallway near the source of the mosquitoes, and pointed towards
the wall to reduce the risk of unacceptable UV exposure to adjacent

I wouldn't imagine that a UV filter would be a good idea on this
type of trap, as the UV source is what is attracting the insects.
Instead, I'd recommend thoughtful deployment of a UV trap.

Another thing to consider is the biology of museum pests.  Consider
that most, if not all, of the pests we encounter are damaging in
their larval form.  A light trap, while quite successful at catching
phototropic adults, does nothing to attract larvae, or to interrupt
damaging larval feeding.  To indiscriminately use a UV trap may not
provide any benefit in terms of pest management, and may actually
prove to be a detriment, by attracting additional adult pests to the

Will Jeffers
Collections Care Specialist
Department of Scientific Research
Museum of Fine Arts
465 Huntington Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Fax: 617-369-3702

                  Conservation DistList Instance 14:32
                Distributed: Thursday, December 7, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-14-32-003
Received on Thursday, 30 November, 2000

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