Know Your Bugs!

Historic properties and cultural institutions should have an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) policy in order to effectively prevent damage to their collections. Having an IPM plan sets a schedule for monitoring, housekeeping, and identification of potential pests. IPM is the safest manner of pest control because it seeks to prevent infestations, where possible, and avoids the use of chemical pesticides that may cause damage to collections material and create health risks.

Proper prevention requires determining how pests might enter the building and collections areas and, once they are in, what might allow them to continue to live and breed. The identification of pests found is the first crucial step in solving the problems that these invaders can cause. Exact identification provides important information about their food sources, preferred environmental and shelter conditions, as well as their life cycles. Trapping pests can be very helpful for monitoring infestations: catching pests and evaluating increasing/decreasing total numbers. However, they are not a tool to help identify your pests or a means to eradicate the pest problem.

This technical note provides a list of the most common cultural heritage institutions pests in North America and Europe, and information about food sources and life cycles. Knowing what food pests eat helps identify collection items most at risk; knowing how and where they reproduce allows to reduce, and possibly eliminate, the breeding areas. The guide is not comprehensive and does not include vertebrates such as birds, bats, and rodents. For more detailed information on this topic, more pest images, or trap suppliers’ lists refer to the resources at the end of the document.

Updated July 2022.