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.

the wily biscuit beetle. (yes I am anthropmorphizing just a bit)

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.

pest damage

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.

Lindsey was right. They do like compositae.

 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!


About Gina Allnatt

I have just finished a year long traineeship as a Biology Curator at Manchester Museum. I am currently a research and curation volunteer in the Entomology and Botany departments. -Gina Allnatt
This entry was posted in curation, Herbarium and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Pests!

  1. Karohemd says:

    I hope you’ll be able to get rid of the beasties without much trouble.
    Thank you for this blog, it’s a fascinating insight into what’s going on behind the scenes of a museum.

  2. Jennie says:

    I think of those as flour beetles; have found them in bags of flour and boxes of cornflakes before now.

  3. Benjamin Biology says:

    Great article! Will be on the look out for these little buggers.

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