Museum Pest Control – Identification and Suppression of Pests

Many materials housed in museums are susceptible to deterioration by insects, fungus and rodents. Prevention strategies include avoiding the conditions that attract pests and using methods that are least likely to be harmful to people and pets.

These might include blocking access to food, water or shelter by sealing cracks and holes. Using traps or bait can also be effective, especially when you know the pest’s preferred routes. Contact Nature Shield Pest Solutions now!

Correct identification is an essential step in any pest management program. It enables you to gather basic information about the pest, such as its life cycle and what conditions encourage its growth. This information can help you map out an integrated pest management (IPM) strategy that minimizes or eliminates the problem without the use of harmful chemicals.

Insect pests, for example, can differ dramatically in their physical forms at different stages of their life cycle. Some species go through significant changes in appearance as they develop and mature from egg, to larva, to pupa, to adult, or as they migrate from one habitat to another. Identification to the species level enables you to gather key biological information that can help you design more effective strategies for controlling the pest, such as knowing whether the pest has natural enemies that could be utilized in an IPM program.

Pests can also vary greatly in their ability to withstand certain types of management tactics. For instance, some insect pests have developed resistance to a particular pesticide. In other cases, a pesticide application may fail to control a pest because it was not timed correctly for the stage of life cycle or location where the pest was most susceptible.

If you are unsure about the identification of a pest, contact your commodity or crop organization, Cooperative Extension agent, State land grant university, or other specialists for assistance. Many online resources also provide helpful information, but be sure to use two or more sources for confirmation of the identity of a pest.

In many situations, prevention is the best form of pest control. For example, if a weed or insect is known to damage plants in your facility or to contaminate collections, consider using cultural methods of control such as weed removal, replacing the pest with a non-target species or variety, or introducing beneficial insects to compete with the pests for food. If a chemical control is required, consider less-toxic options such as horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps. If your institution has a collection of plants, consider starting a file of labelled digital images of each specimen to serve as a reference in the future.


While many people have good intentions when trying to prevent pest infestations, nothing compares to the sharp eye of a trained professional. They can quickly spot what the average person might miss, such as holes in the foundation or rotten wood that could allow pests entry into the house. They can also inspect the exterior of a building to make sure screens are in place and that cracks and crevices are sealed.

Prevention also involves altering the environment so that pests are less likely to invade, such as removing food sources, blocking entry points and managing waste effectively. This can include implementing agricultural methods such as crop rotation and selecting pest-resistant plant varieties. Prevention tactics are generally targeted at specific pests and can be either chemical or non-chemical in nature.

For example, ants and cockroaches often live around food scraps and garbage. It’s best to take steps to keep this material out of reach, such as putting trash cans in the garage or a shed, and keeping them securely closed at all times. In the kitchen, it’s also helpful to remove food from open containers or store them in tightly-sealed plastic bags. It’s important to regularly wash all food containers, especially those that have been in the refrigerator, and to keep them from sitting out on counters.

Other examples of prevention include keeping plants well-watered, removing leaf litter and other debris that pests like to hide under or near and sealing expansion joints in the building’s walls. This is a good idea for both residential and commercial property owners, as these steps can help reduce the need for invasive chemical treatments.

Having a robust pest prevention program is the most cost-effective and environmentally safe approach to pest control. It can also save a facility or its QA managers from the embarrassment of having products recalled or rejected by clients due to pest-related issues, which is bad for everybody involved. This is something that all QA and plant management teams should strive for, even if it requires more effort in the beginning stages to implement.


Suppression aims to reduce pest populations below an action threshold (a level at which the harm caused by the pest is considered unacceptable). This is a common goal in many pest situations, and often prevention and suppression are linked.

Thresholds are generally determined by esthetic or health concerns, but can also be related to economic or environmental damage. For example, citrus groves cannot have pest populations above a certain number that would negatively impact the value of the crop or the ability to harvest it. A similar threshold may be set for pests in other settings such as homes, schools, hospitals or offices. Some pests have a “zero tolerance” that forces action to be taken, regardless of cost.

When an action threshold is reached, there are several options to consider for control. The simplest is to use preventative methods to keep pests from getting to an acceptable level. This involves making changes to the growing environment, for example using barriers to prevent pests from entering crops.

Suppression is also a common practice, and this can be done through a variety of means including chemical, mechanical, cultural and biological controls. However, when using chemicals, it is important to be aware of the potential impact to non-target species such as honey bees and lady beetles in the grove. These non-target species are important pollinators and help with insect predatory control, so if their populations decrease due to the use of pesticides this can have negative impacts on the grove.

Other methods for suppressing pests include the use of resistant plants, pheromones or disease vectoring organisms. The use of resistant plant varieties can help to keep pest populations below harmful levels by making it more difficult for them to grow and survive. Pheromones can confuse male insects and prevent them from mating, and these can be manufactured or copied naturally occurring pheromones (like the ones female insects emit when they are ready to mate).

It is always important to carefully read product labels for pesticides before application, and to use personal protective equipment whenever possible. This includes long-sleeved shirts, pants, closed-toe footwear, face and eye protection and gloves. This ensures the safety of the user, their family and friends as well as minimizing environmental impacts.


Pests are organisms (plants, invertebrates, nematodes, viruses or weeds) that negatively affect the health of humans, livestock and crops, as well as other living things and terrestrial ecosystems. They can cause economic and environmental damage to buildings, crops, gardens, and lawns, and can be carriers of disease-causing pathogens that threaten human and animal health.

In addition to causing direct losses, pests may displace native plants and animals, alter soil health and nutrient content, disrupt water flows, and change fire regimes. Control of pests is therefore important for maintaining biodiversity and sustainable production.

Eradication means the permanent removal of a pest population from a particular area. In man-made environments, it can be difficult to eradicate pests in all places because of their ability to reintroduce themselves. However, the probability of eradication is higher at local than regional and international scales. This might be due to more effective monitoring and the adoption of critical sanitary measures.

Preventive methods include regularly cleaning areas where pests tend to live and removing rubbish that provides them with food and shelter. Physical traps and bait stations can be used to kill or capture pests. Other techniques like laying traps at the entrance to homes and businesses and sanitizing kitchens, cupboards and storage spaces can also help. Chemical sprays and powders can be applied to the surface of a pest to dehydrate or poison it. This is often a last resort when other methods have failed and must only be done by qualified specialists.

It is also important to choose the right kind of pesticide. It must be effective for the intended pest and least toxic to other organisms. It must not be diluted and should only be used according to the product label. The wrong amount of pesticide can be harmful to people, pets, livestock and the environment. Only use pesticides that are registered and approved for the target pest. It is also important to purchase only from trusted sources and to store them properly so that children do not access them. It is illegal to sell or buy unregistered pesticides in certain jurisdictions.