Integrated Pest Management (IPM)

What is Integrated Pest Management?

Insect trap with silverfish Insect trap

Insect monitoring trap with silverfish (Lepisma saccharina L).

Insect monitoring trap (sticky trap).

IPM is an "operational strategy for managing pest problems. IPM is an ecosystems approach to the control of pests. IPM applied in the museum context employs a variety of techniques to prevent and solve pest problems in an efficient and environmentally sound manner without compromising the safety of collections, museum staff or visitors." (1)

How does IPM work at the Peabody Museum?

The current IPM program at the Peabody Museum involves many different efforts to keep the buildings pest-free.  Monitoring for pest activity is one important aspect of the program, involving collaboration between an outside pest control firm, which services public areas, and Museum staff, who monitor the collections in exhibit galleries, work-processing rooms, and in the research/storage rooms.

Sticky traps serve as a key part of the monitoring program. Preventive measures, such as regular interior cleaning, limiting food and drink to approved locations, and keeping food remains in tightly sealed containers, are some of the most basic ongoing activities.  

Goals & Suggestions for an Effective Building-Wide IPM Program  

Insect larval casings Wool with mold growth Mold under microscope

Insect debris and larval casings taken from an infested wood figurine with painted hide and dyed wool fabric.

Wool with mold growth.

Photomacrograph of mold residue on wool fabric.

  • Prevent entry of pests, such as insects, birds, and rodents, into buildings.
  • Develop good exterior building maintenance and appropriate landscaping.
  • Avoid practices and habits that attract pests.
  • Moderate the interior climate and avoid high relative humidity and temperatures.
  • Develop and maintain good interior housekeeping practices.
  • Maintain appropriate food restrictions and food/trash removal practices.  
  • Implement measures to detect pests.
  • Set up and maintain an insect monitoring program; for example, utilizing sticky traps and other monitoring techniques.
  • Inspect all incoming Museum objects and paper materials for evidence of prior or current pest activity, and inspect stored collections periodically for insect activity.
  • Take actions that reduce the source and spread of the pest infestation.
  • Isolate infested materials, consult experts if necessary, and choose the most appropriate safe control method(s) for eradication.  

For further resources on IPM, please check the following links:

(1) Adapted from the cover article by Wendy Claire Jessup in the May 1997 issue of AIC News (bimonthly publication of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works).

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