If Charles Dickens’ Oliver (of novel, musical and film fame) were to sing the song ‘Food, Glorious Food!’ inside Nostell, I think it would be more appropriate for him to sing ‘Pests, Glorious Pests!’ Rather than wax lyrical about hot sausage and mustard Oliver would be singing about carpet beetles and silverfish. Instead of asking for more, he’d be praying for less! Enough of the comparisons for now, today’s blog post focuses on the not-so-glamorous world of pest monitoring (or IPM, ‘Integrated Pest Management’).
Nostell uses small black plastic pest traps, although there are a great variety of traps to choose from, including cardboard blunder traps and moth pheromone traps. They have a sticky sheet of card inside which pests stick to, which allows us to record numbers and see if we have any infestations. Luckily, Nostell is a generally good house with few pest worries. (Fingers crossed it will stay that way!) The pest traps are found in every room in Nostell, and are placed in areas that little beasties like to hide, for example in fireplaces, next to walls, and under beds.
Fireplace pest trap
Pest trap next to a wall
We check the pests traps every three moths (I mean ‘months’ – a Freudian slip!) to ensure that no pests go unnoticed.
Stacking up the little black boxes to see what creepy crawlies (if any) are stuck inside
Depending on whereabouts in the house they are, some pest traps get absolutely filthy, so we give them a clean before putting them back where they were. It’s really important that they go back to the exact same location, so that we can develop a realistic picture over the years of where problem areas are.
We use this wall chart to help us identify insects. If it’s not on the chart, it’s probably not a pest (but it’s always best to check with a conservator if we’re not sure)
These are the sticky part of the trap which catch the pests. The sticky pads are replaced once we have recorded the pests, and the old sticky pads are disposed of.
A selection of critters on one of the traps in the Peacock Bedroom. Moths, spiders, flies, silverfish – this was actually one of the more full traps, as around a third were empty (which can only be a good thing)
The public enjoyed seeing us open some of the pest traps – the one above in particular made a little girl exclaim ‘you have the worst job ever!’ but then after I had talked to her about the work we do, she changed her mind to saying ‘it’s actually quite exciting to see the bugs!’
Flies in the Grey Bathroom
Record sheets, pest traps, plans of where the pest traps are located, spare sticky pads, the list of pest monitoring equipment goes on…
Julie records how many little beasties are inside one of the pest traps
We enter all of the information we find into a spreadsheet, and send it to our conservators, who analyse the results and look at patterns of insect infestation (if there are any) in Nostell’s rooms over the years
We hope you’ve enjoyed entering the world of bugs – it’s one of the least glamorous jobs we have to do, but surprisingly fun!