Thursday, 16 August 2012

Nasty Nibblers

If you peer under furniture and into corners at Petworth House, you might spot some green plastic boxes. These are our insect traps, designed to catch creepy crawlies as they move around the edges of rooms munching on our collection. Welcome to the wonderful world of pest management and conservation at Petworth House…

An insect trap tucked away in the bedroom corridor upstairs

The pest traps have a sticky pad in them which the bugs get stuck on, and we use these to record insect numbers and monitor for infestations. We have 89 traps spread throughout 34 rooms, including the showrooms, servants’ quarters and store rooms. During the winter when the house is freezing the traps only get checked every few months, but at this time of year the insects are much more active and the traps are checked every few weeks!

A close-up of one of the insect traps in the Little Dining Room

The information we collect gets entered onto a spreadsheet and sent off to our conservators. This is then used to build up a pattern of insect activity over time – not only at Petworth House but across the country, as other properties participate too.

As with many properties we get a large variety of insect pests at Petworth House, including clothes moths, various species of carpet beetles, booklice, silverfish, and even one or two of the dreaded death watch beetle - named after the ticking sound they make!

Although this insect trap predominately contains case-bearing clothes moths, there is also a woolly bear (carpet beetle larva) and a black ground beetle in the top left corner

If you fancy getting up close and personal with some of Petworth House’s bugs, we are having a ‘Nasty Nibblers’ event on Tuesday 21st August. There are samples of the insects we find here and the materials they’ve munched on, and even a pest quiz for you to have a go at!

Conservation Assistant

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