As we approach Christmas and the nights grow longer we all shelter from the blustery wind and dry out our rain soaked clothes, there are creepy crawlies who want to pull their duvets a little closer and snuggle up in the warmth too. The climate controlled stacks are warm, dry and full of enough tasty food to see them through the winter. Whilst we encourage human activity to take advantage of the treasures in Special Collections, insects and rodents are strongly discouraged!
Our Integrated Pest Management (IPM) involves good housekeeping and careful monitoring. Many cases of insect damage inside the books are historic and occurred when the books were housed elsewhere. These are no longer a concerning sign and will possibly be repaired next time they are due for conservation. What we are looking out for is current signs of life. We use pheromone traps to lure insects away from the books and into the traps. The hormone on the tablet attracts the insects into the trap and the large, very sticky pad keeps them there as evidence until we carry out our routine inspections. The traps are regularly documented and photographed. There are many traps (such as the one below) are left out in strategic spots throughout the stacks.
The most common pests in libraries are probably silverfish or carpet beetles and spiders can be quite useful as they eat other insects. English Heritage has a great wall chart to help identify the moth from the woodlouse. More information is available from their website and also the Preservation Advisory Center leaflet.