Libraries and archival collections create the ideal conditions for pests when there is a lack of integrated pest management, which includes environmental controls and pest prevention techniques. Integrated pest management focuses on pest prevention and control using techniques that are environmentally friendly and products that pose the least risk of toxicity. By knowing which conditions lead to pest problems in archives, you can take steps to prevent a costly infestation.
Pests Commonly Found in Archives
- Silverfish: Silverfish often feed on the starches found in wallpaper and book pastes. They also eat fabric and the surface of paper, often preferring coated or glossy papers. Firebrats have similar eating preferences.
- Psocids, or booklice: Booklice eat microscopic mold that grows on paper, as well as paste and glue.
- Cockroaches: Cockroaches prefer dark, moist areas. They feed on dust, dead skin cells, paper, leather, wallpaper, cloth, starches and trash.
- Beetles: Larder beetles, bread beetles, drugstore beetles (also called bookworms) and cigarette beetles commonly infest libraries and archives. Beetles often feed on starches, such as the rice- and flour-based pastes used in some books. Some feed on leather bindings and bore into books to nest.
- Termites: Termites eat cellulose materials, such as wood, paper, binding boards and binding cloth.
- Rats and mice: Rodents have sharp teeth that gnaw through cinderblocks, aluminum sheeting, wood, sheetrock, plastic and other materials. They use the paper in books and other archived materials for nests. Not only is their damage expensive, they may transmit diseases to humans.
- Reduce moisture: Pests need food and water to survive. In an archive, books and paper materials provide a ready source of food. High relative humidity levels and leaks within a building provide water. Prevent pest infestations by using temporary climate control solutions in conjunction with an HVAC unit to control relative humidity levels and temperatures. Regularly inspect the building and remedy standing water and leaks.
- Block entrances: Pests often enter a building through windows and cracks in a building’s exterior. Seal all holes and cracks found in interior and exterior walls that are 1/8 inch or larger. Ensure that all doors and windows have tight seals.
- Landscape maintenance: Keep the landscaping free of weeds and debris, such as fallen leaves, as they invite pests. Minimize pest access to a building by cutting back tree branches that overhang the roof and trimming bushes so they don’t touch the building. In addition, ensure that gutters and downspouts are clean and in good condition.
- Inspect donated materials: Insects, such as silverfish and bedbugs, sometimes arrive in boxes of donated books and materials. Store and open the boxes in a designated room that doesn’t contain collections. Inspect the materials for pests and signs of pest damage.
- Housekeeping: Clean the building regularly and inspect it for signs of pests. Regularly dispose indoor trash into an outdoor receptacle that’s several feet away from the building.
Preventing and Controlling Pest Problems in Archives
Archives often require different temperature and humidity settings than the rest of a building, particularly when they contain delicate items, such as antique books and film. The best way to create and maintain the optimal conditions is with Polygon’s temporary climate control solutions, which are an effective component of an integrated pest management plan. Talk to a Polygon representative today to learn more about how these solutions save energy and prevent costly losses.
[Photo from rawdonfox via CC License 2.0]