A few days ago, biscuit beetles were found on some of our herbarium sheets. We found a mixture of live and dead beetles and their frass on a folder filled with Jerusalem Artichoke sheets. The sheets were from the Leo Grindon Cultivated collection and had been moved back and forth out of the herbarium as they were being used to promote the Museum’s new allotment. The opportunistic biscuit beetles must have hopped a ride on the sheets as they were travelling.
Biscuit beetles, also known as Drugstore beetles (Stegobium paniceum) are insects that feed on a variety of household items such as spices, flour, prescription drugs, paper and leather. They are also, unfortunately, common museum pests.
This morning I checked the Helianthus soldander box that the Jerusalem Artichoke had come from and it turned out there were more beetles in there.
The strange thing was that all the beetles in the solander box and most of them on the folder were dead. It is possible that the infestations are a combination of past occurences in which the beetles were fumigated and new beetles that have found a way in. Regardless, it’s ALL being frozen. I’m not taking chances. Further live ones were found in our pest traps. Lindsey suggested I check the rest of the Compositae as she knew pests seemed to like that family of plants.
Preventive conservator Abigail Stevens and I are now checking the whole cabinet and bagging up the boxes and sheets for deep freezing. We have a big job ahead of us!