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Last week Emma and I went to Powis Castle in Wales on an Integrated Pest Management course. This was to help properties implement the IPM system, so that all National Trust properties are using the same system to record pest problems. This will help gain a national picture, and help identify when properties have a problem.

We learnt about the pests that we are likely to find doing damage to our collections, but simply they can be split into three categories. Borers bore their way through objects leaving exit holes, shredders destroy entire specimens and shred them to dust or particles, and grazers eat the surface layer of materials. Learning about the types of pests and the materials they like to damage can help us to identify problems and vulnerable places in rooms.

Back at Attingham we were able to investigate the previous pest problems in the house and look at the most common pests. The traps were last checked and recorded in June, and are due to be checked again in September. Our most common pest is silver fish, but this reflects National Trust properties nationally. You can some of pests from the Servants Hall below.

 Sticky Blunder Trap

At Attingham we have had a few problems that have now been treated. There was a case of carpet beetle in the Drawing Room in 2009. Carpet beetles are shredders, and were particularly damaging to the red part of the carpet.

Carpet Beetle damage

The carpet is between 160 and 170 years old, so once the damage was identified as Carpet Beetle, a pheromone could be used in the sticky blunder trap to try and trap the carpet beetles. As you can see from the location of the trap below, insects usually come into rooms from vulnerable points such as windows, by skirting boards and fireplaces.

 Trap near the damage to the carpet

The course also highlighted the importance of the cleaning routines in properties, and the problems that can arise if cleaning standards are not maintained. This was particularly useful because it highlighted to us, as new interns with the National Trust , areas that are key to look out for. For example around windows and window ledges, corners of room and fireplaces. If these areas aren’t maintained they can attract pests, or we might have a pest problem going unnoticed.

The course was taken by Samantha Taylor, Conservator for the National Trust, Catherine Harris, Assistant Conservator for the National Trust and Bob Child, Insect and Pest Consultant. Both Emma and I found the course interesting, providing us with a great opportunity to find out about some of the problems that properties deal with around the country, and the expert knowledge behind the actions we take with the IPM system. Bob, Samantha and Catherine will all be giving talks at Attingham for our ‘For One Week Only’ event, starting from the 1st of September. You can find out more about the event here, and download the events timetable for Attingham. We hope to see you there, and that you enjoy the opportunity to gain a different insight into the work the National Trust does!

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