One thing I really never thought I would enjoy doing before entering into the world of preventative conservation was getting anywhere near bugs, however I have come to find it really fascinating, maybe even . . . enjoyable . . .
On the 30th July Powis hosted the Integrated Pest Management Training, a course designed to teach house staff about potential pest problems, how to monitor, how to avoid them and if anything should happen how to treat it.
The day began with a practical session led by Bob Child, the founder of Historyonics a company that supplies the National Trust and other historic companies with tools to combat pest problems. He invented Constrain, a solution used to stop pest infestations. It is sprayed on infected objects and is lethal to insects. Throughout the morning’s talk it seemed that Bob has worked at every major museum in Britain and he is the pest specialist of the National Trust as well, that makes him a little bit of a rock star in my book, I would love to have such an in-depth knowledge of one area, like pests, and use that information to take me to all these different, amazing, interesting locations. It would be amazing to be the person the National Trust went to for advice on a specific subject area.
The morning talk was about the different types of pests, how they get into properties, why they come in, what to look out for and the different ways to monitor and tackle pest activity. We were shown various different types of pest traps used to monitor activity. Bob was a really good speaker, making the topic interesting and even, in some places, funny. The cases he told us about were interesting too, if a little horrifying listening to the damage that can be done.
The afternoon consisted of a session with Bob looking at examples of pests so we could get our eye in for the second part of the afternoon. He also told us about each species, what they look like, what they eat and how to tackle them. This was interesting to see clear examples of all the different pests and they damage they could do. I have never really seen examples of any serious damage done by pests, so this was very interesting to see, and much better seeing it like this than in an actual infestation. He also showed us different insecticides and talked us through when and how to use them.
Next we were walked around the castle looking at the pest traps and identifying what was in each. Catherine Harris and Sam Taylor led this part of the day. We were given maps so I led the group around the castle and stood back from the identifying, as I had already seen all the traps when I have been recording them. This was a really good exercise because as Catherine said, pests will not always be as clear to identify as Bob’s nicely preserved specimens.
Then we went back to the Old Kitchens and were talked through the spread sheets used to record the pests. Now that most of the Trust properties are using the same format of recording it makes it easier for central office to keep an eye on what problems are occurring where, and keep a detailed record of pest activity. The day was really interesting and it was enjoyable to meet many other Trust employes from different properties in the surrounding areas.
I do find this area fascinating, and enjoy identifying the different species in the traps. Though I will admit, I’m more likely to run a mile from a spider than try to catch it, thought that’s ok as they’re not technically pests.
(Pictures included throughout from nationaltrustimages.org.uk)