Monitoring is a critical step in the implementation of a successful IPM program. 

Monitoring provides data regarding the base level of pests at an institution, helps to identify active infestations, and can be used to determine the threshold of acceptable activity that is specific to each collection, zone, building, and institution.  In addition, concrete data regarding pests activity in specific locations supports requests for exclusionary measures such as additional door sweeps or new windows.

The main Monitoring page provides basic information regarding selection, usage, documentation, and maintenance of monitoring traps.  Under How to Monitor, you will find in depth guidance regarding trap selection, placement, and checking.  Under Record Keeping and Reporting, you will find links to spreadsheets and software that can be used for pest tracking, as well as presentations from a variety of institutions regarding pest management tools. The Health & Safety for Monitoring tab provides information regarding potential risks and hazards to staff and collections in various monitoring scenarios and how to mitigate those risks. Lastly, publications regarding pest monitoring can be found in the Bibliography tab.

Monitor Trap Selection

If you are beginning an IPM monitoring program to determine your baseline, starting with simple blunder “sticky” traps is the most effective and cost efficient.  If you have an active infestation and you are aware of the specific pests already within your space (mice, clothes moths, drugstore beetles, etc.), using targeted solutions such as rodent traps or specific insect pheromones  in conjunction with blunder traps may be preferable. 

Monitor Trap Placement

Blunder traps should be placed inside every building, area, and room where your collection is stored. It may be helpful to create a map of the risk zones within storage spaces and adjust the number of traps based on this information. For instance, stone carvings do not need the number of pest traps that taxidermy needs. Invertebrates tend to walk along edges, such as walls of rooms so placing the traps along these paths will provide more accurate data. Spread the location of traps throughout the room, especially on either side of doorways, windows, near drains, and any other entry points you suspect. Also consider placing traps near objects/specimens that are more likely to harbor insects, such as African hats with feathers, wool carpets, taxidermy, etc. Start with a small number of monitors per room, more if it is a large storage vault. Confer with conservators, registrars and janitorial staff on specific location placement if you can. 

If you have flying pests then hanging traps will need to be deployed in additional locations off the ground. See insect traps for help with trap types.  If pheromone or food lure traps are required, the principals are similar, but see details about these on the pheromone traps page.

If you have an active infestation in an area, additional traps are likely needed to help pinpoint the source so action can be taken quickly.

For vertebrate pest remediation see more information on Vertebrates

For example scenarios on where to place monitor traps please see the How to Monitor section.

Recording Monitor Trap Locations

To keep track of where traps are placed, it is recommended that a unique number or identifier is assigned to each location. The location itself is assigned an ID and a trap is then put in that location. If a trap is moved to a new location, the existing ID is retired and a new ID is assigned for the new location. It may be simplest to have more than one general trap location field, such as building and then floors of the building in different fields.

Schemes for assigning monitoring location IDs are variable based on the size of the area being monitored. A strict system of numbers for each trap regardless of site, building, zone can be used, or an alphanumeric system that helps distinguish areas can be used. For example: If a storage room has a name or number, using an abbreviation for that room with a location number can make data checking easy. For instance, the storage room “Main Art”may have trap numbers MA-001, MA-002, MA-003, MA-004, etc.  

Physically number and date the trap. Make note of the trap number and location information (MA-001 is to the east of the entry door). Your numbering system will need to fit what program you plan on using for data entry and reporting. For spreadsheets, for instance, you may need to add extra zeros in front of the number to allow for future sorting of larger trap numbers (ie. Trap #00002 will adapt better than trap #2).

Monitor Trap Checking

Monitoring tasks include:

  • Physically inspecting traps
  • Identifying and counting invertebrates caught in each trap
  • Replacing traps or marking off counted invertebrates
  • Recording monitoring data

This must happen on a regular basis, and the frequency will depend on how many traps there are and how many people are part of the IPM team. Be realistic regarding staff availability, budget and goals: the number of traps placed will greatly affect how much labor and cost you will incur for your monitoring program. Quarterly trap checking is a minimal goal to aim for. If you have 3000 traps, you probably cannot check those monthly. If you have 300 traps and 3 IPM team members, each may be able to monthly check ⅓ of the traps. If you can only check 30 traps every quarter, then you may need to severely limit the number of traps you place at your site.

You may divide tasks across team members if appropriate. Once the IPM person or team is familiar with recurring locations or pests, you may add more traps or check more (or less) often, adjusting according to the findings over time. Similarly there will be times when more traps may be required, or more frequent checking such as during an infestation. Simply add any new locations to the spreadsheet/list of monitor locations. Please note that your location changes, your trap number changes: if the trap moves from the left of the door to the right of the door, then that would be a new location and a new trap number.

Data: The way you record the information that you capture will allow for useful data analysis later. Splitting up details into fields allows greater flexibility. Consistency in data will strengthen your ability to analyze.

Analysis and Reporting

Once all data has been entered into your database or spreadsheet, it needs to be analyzed in order to target any infestation issues. One year’s cycle will assist in deciphering if there is a sudden increase in numbers of insects, or if this is a simply seasonal variation in incidentals. The ability of your selected program or spreadsheet to sort through the data and compare to previous reports will help you decide what to examine, isolate or treat. Analyze the data by building or room or trap number or pest name. If reporting to other departments, include graphs for ease of understanding the seasonal differences as opposed to infestation upticks. If environmental monitoring data is available to include in these visual aids or reports, it can create a more robust analysis.

Reports should regularly be sent to other stakeholders within your institution in order to gain traction or “buy in” for funding, work on the building (or buildings) envelope(s), or even added manhours to treat an identified infestation. Your data should be clear and educational to other departments. Defining what the pest risk types mean to most stakeholders is beneficial as they most likely do not know the difference between an incidental insect and a pest. In addition to graphs, summarize the data you have analyzed in a short paragraph and spotlight urgent issues: infestation, building envelope issues and custodial project needs. It will be important to plainly describe a seasonal uptick in indicator insects vs. an infestation that requires immediate attention. Photographs of building envelope issues and custodial needs are easily understandable and can be included in a report as well as any pest damage that has been documented.

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