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Biological Pests

Although a chapter in this book is devoted entirely to biological pests a few of the major points are discussed briefly in this section.

Biological pests include moulds, bacteria, insects and other small animals such as mice, rats and birds. All of these organisms are capable of causing severe damage to objects in a collection.

Problems can be minimised by adopting appropriate housekeeping practices and ensuring that the building in which objects are housed is well maintained. Some of the practical ways in which this can be achieved include:

  • keeping storage and display areas clean;
  • regularly inspecting objects in the collection;
  • ensuring that new objects are not infested or contaminated before they are added to a collection;
  • blocking access to ceiling spaces by nesting birds, possums and other animals;
  • controlling populations of mice, rats and insects by the use of screens, traps and the careful application of residual pesticides;
  • keeping food sources away from objects; and
  • controlling the environmental conditions so that mould growth and insect populations are not encouraged (keep the relative humidity below 65 %).

Note that trapping rodents is preferable to poisoning them. Trapping allows the rodent’s body to be disposed of appropriately, while poisoning means the body usually ends up as a source of food for some other pest.