This portion of the site contains information and resources on how to treat infestations that have been confirmed as active. Some of the treatments are also used preventatively. Treatment options for rooms and buildings will differ greatly from solutions for item level infestations.
It cannot be stressed enough that treatment of an active pest infestation without getting to the root cause of the problem is of limited value. Personnel at cultural heritage institutions must determine the source of an infestation, the reasons an infestation exists, and then address permanent, non-chemical solutions to these problems – this is the basis for integrated pest management. Please check our Prevention Resources for assistance.
If you have an active infestation and are not sure where to start, visit our page Dealing With An Active Infestation.
There are several ways to treat an active pest infestation and the most appropriate method will depend upon a variety of factors such as:
- Type of collection (mixed media, books and archival collections, ethnographic art, audio visual materials, etc.)
- Size of infestation (e.g. single object, storage box or cabinet, or exhibit area)
- Institutional capabilities (e.g. access to an appropriate freezer)
Invertebrate (Insect) Treatment Fact Sheets for the various treatment options listed below give a brief description of each treatment solution, discuss what collections materials can be treated this way, outline general procedures and pros and cons of the particular treatment, and touch on supplies, additional resources, and health and safety concerns.
At the bottom of each Treatment page are links (when available) to case studies that give information on the experience of a specific institution and are designed to complement the Fact Sheets by providing more specific information on why the institution made the choice it did. When appropriate, detailed information on procedures and resources are given. Case studies have been provided by various members of the cultural heritage community, reviewed and vetted by the IPM-WG. For more information please contact the institution directly.
When available, additional resources provided by members the IPM-WG or the museum community are also linked to the Treatment Fact Sheets.
- Low Temperature Treatment
- Heat Treatment
- Controlled Atmosphere – Oxygen Scavenger Treatment
- Controlled Atmosphere – Carbon Dioxide Treatment
- Controlled Atmosphere – Nitrogen / Argon Gas Treatment
- Fumigation with Toxic Gases
- Pesticide Treatment of Collections Areas
- Insect Growth Regulators (IGRs) in Collections
- Insect Growth Regulators (IGR’s) for Subterranean Termites
Some of these options can be easily done in-house with some training and investment in resources, others require trained professional assistance. Clicking on any of the above options will allow you to access the Fact Sheet which is designed to help clarify the treatments, allowing for an informed decision making process. While these resources are designed to assist institutions in deciding which remedial treatments may be appropriate for their collections, the IPM-WG cannot guarantee the appropriateness or efficacy of any of these methods.
NEW – Read the 2020 study by G. Crowther and E. Breitung on the Evaluation of low detection limits of a range of low-cost oxygen meters for anoxic treatments for information that may be useful in choosing an oxygen meter or analyzer.
Vertebrate Pests Treatment (mice & rats, etc.)
The documents listed above apply to invertebrate (insect) pests. A different range of actions and solutions is necessary for dealing with vertebrate pests such as commensal rodents (mice and rats), other rodents and nuisance mammals (squirrels, raccoons, woodchucks, opossums, skunks, bats, etc.), birds, etc. See the Solutions for Treating Vertebrate Pests page.
Working with a Pest Management Professional
Most types of treatment and almost all chemical and fumigant options require training and licensing. It is important to work with knowledgeable and experienced Pest Management Professionals (PMPs) to ensure that all legal and health and safety regulations are followed. The Prevention – Pest Management Professionals page contains useful information on establishing a constructive working relationship with a local PMP.
Reasons for Preventive Treatment:
Collections may also be treated ‘preventively’ to ensure there is no infestation. Examples of this include: moving collections into a new space or facility, accepting new acquisitions or reintegrating collections that have returned from loan into collections storage areas, bulk collections of material that cannot be individually inspected, etc.
Created 2014, updated 2021