Pest Management

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Insects and rodents may regard your collections as an inviting meal. Cockroaches, silverfish, carpet beetles, mice, and rats are often drawn to adhesives and starches in paper-based collections, and can cause significant damage during their stay. These pests leave behind signature abrasions and holes in paper, leather, and textile. Taking an active role in pest management is the best way to minimize and avoid disfiguring damage.

Signs of current pest activity can be subtle. Telltale indicators include small shards of paper or board visible on storage shelves, as well as pest droppings. However, pests can still be present even if their work is not immediately visible. Insect larvae can lie dormant for months and even years, becoming active when conditions are favorable.

Maintaining a clean, climate-controlled environment is the best way to stop pest activity before it starts. Pests flourish in warm, moist environments; keeping surroundings cool and dry discourages their activity. Pests can thrive on dirt and droppings, so wipe shelves clean and use a gentle vacuum to clean books.

Prevention is the best weapon against pests, so be sure to monitor collections on a regular schedule to nip pest activity in the bud. The process of making pest control a regular part of collections care is called “integrated pest management.” Even if a collection has never experienced a pest problem, proper environmental controls and vigilance can help prevent damaging outbreaks in the future. See Environmental Control for more information.

Preservation information provided by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission is intended only as a general guideline for collections care. The Texas State Library and Archives Commission is not responsible for any damage that might occur in the specific application of this information.

Page last modified: December 10, 2018