NOTE: These guidelines are specific to the Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia CANADA and the result of a request from a local community museum. Consult with a conservator in your area for treatment specific to your location. Where chemical use is recommended follow MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) instructions for safe handling.Pest infestation can be difficult to treat. For example, Powder Post beetles can survive for years within the wood in larvae form and can only be adequately treated as they emerge from the wood. However, Timbor is a relatively non-toxic chemical that will kill the beetles as they emerge. It is suggested that the infested wood be sprayed regularly, perhaps yearly or if more evidence of beetle activity is observed. The most critical step in controlling it is to carefully examine new objects as they come in and regularly inspect objects in your collection. Wood products of all kinds are susceptible even if varnished or painted.
The following are a general set of guidelines for dealing with this type of problem. This information is a summary of this type of problem from available literature combined with information obtained from conservators and pest control officers I have contacted. It is suggested that these steps should be followed in this order as objects come in.
1) ISOLATE: all wooden objects that are brought in should be isolated from the rest of your collection until they are verified as free of infestation or have been treated. Bag all the objects that are small enough to fit in bags. Place larger objects in a tent or tarp big enough to sit it on and have it completely covered. Infestation evidence will then be deposited in that space for observation.
2) EXAMINE: very carefully examine each object for these three things - holes, debris such as legs or other beetle body parts, frass (beetle excrement, a fine powder). NOTE: this is not always followed by curators and other museum workers but is a critical step.
3) IDENTIFY: if you are NOT confidant that it is powder post beetle, bag the evidence and take it to the Agricultural Research Station in Kentville or to the Nova Scotia Museum in Halifax for identification.
4) TREAT: smaller objects with infestation can be bagged and placed in a freezer for a minimum of two weeks. This would normally kill off most infestations and the object would then be safe to move to your collection area. Larger objects with infestation can be sprayed with Timbor and kept in a tent with pest strips such as Home Defence Max from Canadian Tire for at least two months. The strips are placed around the tent OR can be cut up and placed in plastic containers with holes in the sides at the bottom edges so the beetles can crawl inside. WARNING: these strips are toxic - USE GLOVES, open and handle outside as much as possible, DO NOT ALLOW STRIPS TO TOUCH THE OBJECT. Placing them in plastic containers is a way to reduce contact with the chemicals in the strips. These strips can be used in cabinets as well but follow the handling rules.
5) OBSERVE: set up a schedule to examine all your wooden objects at least every 6 months for evidence of infestation and if found, treat immediately.REFERENCES
http://www.nature.nps.gov/biology/ipm/manual/museum.cfm general guidelines for museums – all pests.
http://www.cci-icc.gc.ca/caringfor-prendresoindes/articles/10agents/chap06_table2_lg_e.pdf a list of most common pests and how to identify them.