Bookbinding and the Conservation of Books
A Dictionary of Descriptive Terminology

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The larva of any of some 160 species of beetles. The mature female insect lays her eggs on the edges of books, or in the crevices of bookshelves, and the larvae, when hatched. burrow into the books, or shelves, riddling them with tiny tunnels. Various bookworms, as they are mistakenly called, have been identified, or supposedly identified, among which are: Anobium domesticum, A. eruditus, A. Paniceum, A. pertinax, A. punctatum, and A. striatum; Acarus cheyletus and A. eruditus; Dermestes lardarius; Aecophora pseudospretella; Sitodrepa paniceum; Attagenus pellio; Lepisma saccharina; Ptinus fur; Antherenus varius; Lyctus brunneus; Catorama mexicana; and Rhizopertha dominica. Of the types, the most notorious and destructive are: Sitodrepa paniceum, the drugstore beetle, the female of which is capable of producing as many as 800,000 descendants in a year; Lyctus brunneus, the powder-post beetle, which consumes wooden bookshelves and cases, packing the holes with a flourlike debris, so that nothing substantial remains of the shelf; Ptinus f ur, the spider beetle, first mentioned by Linnaeus in 1766, which can cause severe damage to books, papers, and leather if left undisturbed for long periods of time; Anobium punctatum, the common furniture beetle, the larvae of which bore long cylindrical holes in books and bookshelves; Catorama mexicana, the Mexican book beetle; Dermestes lardarius, the larder beetle, which prefers cheese, ham, etc., but which will devour leather if nothing else is available; and Rhizopertha dominica, which has caused extensive damage in libraries.

Most of these so-called bookworms are small and dark- or reddish-brown. They enter libraries through windows, poorly fitting doors, etc., and seem to proliferate in libraries where dust, dirt, heat, darkness, and poor ventilation are prevalent.

The measures used over the years for the control or elimination of bookworms are virtually legion, including numerous remedies to be rubbed into leather, added to paste, sprinkled on bookshelves and books, etc. Among the many remedies used are: alum and thymol, alum and vitriol (sulfuric acid), (oil of) anis, beeswax, benzene, bitumen, borax, buckbean, cajeput oil, camphor, chili, chloropicrin, cinchona, cinnamon, cloves and oil of cloves, colcynth, copal varnish, copper, cresote, derris, (oil of) eucalyptus, formalin (formaldehyde), kerosine, khuskhus, lac varnish, lavender, margosia, mercuric chloride, mirbane oil, nitrobenzene, muriatic (hydrochloric) acid, musk, myrrh, naphthalene, nicotine, orrisroot oil, ozone, pennyroyal, pepper, petroleum, phenol, porpoise oil, pyrethrum powder, Russia leather shavings, sandalwood, sassafras, shellac, snuff, thyme, thymol, turpentine. vermouth, and wormwood. Some of these remedies were totally ineffective: some were temporarily effective; and some were as destructive as, or even more so than, the pests themselves.

Any preparation or process used to destroy the larvae or beetles must have sufficient residual effect not only to destroy existing larvae but also larvae which will hatch subsequent to the initial treatment. Treatment should be applied in conjunction with proper ventilation, temperature and humidity control, and cleanliness, so as to discourage future infestation.

Fumigation is frequently used to rid libraries of beetle and larvae infestation. Four general methods are used: 1) fumigation of the entire library with hydrogen cyanide, carbon disulfide, or methyl bromide, which, of course, necessitates closing the library for several days; 2) fumigation of batches of books in specially designed vacuum chambers, with a combination (1:9 by weight) of ethylene oxide and carbon dioxide, which is a method well suited to the fumigation of new acquisitions; 3) routine fumigation of the entire collection, carried out batchwise in a chamber, using methyl bromide; and 4) fumigation of one or more books in a small air-tight box, using paradichloro-benzene crystals, which is a method suitable for use by the private collector. Although the first method is potentially dangerous and causes considerable inconvenience, it is the only one which will destroy beetles or larvae which are on the bookshelves. See also: BOOK LICE ; SILVERFISH . (47 , 143 , 247 , 335 )

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