Stop Bugging Me!

“Say hello to my little friend!” No, I’m not Al Pacino; nor is this some horrible blog rendition of Scarface (nor am I holding a machine gun). It’s just that it’s my job to keep all those textile-eating insects away from our Museum collections and I’ve had a few too many “little friends” making appearances in my office lately!

I do regular visual checks and set sticky pest traps in an effort to lure notorious insects away from the collection, but every so often someone finds a lost bug wandering the halls of the Museum. Everyone knows to try to catch it and bring it to me, if possible. Then I determine (based on what it is and where it was found) whether we have a potential problem or not. The usual Museum pest culprits are easy enough to identify: carpet beetles, webbing clothes moths, case-making clothes moths, and a variety of wood boring/eating beetles, just to name a few. Luckily, we typically only have issues with the wool-loving webbing clothes moth and we have that under control.

However, in less than a month, I have had three different staff members bring me weird bugs and, surprisingly, none of them were from Textile Revolution, where the easiest access to the outside is located. The first our Assistant Librarian, Jane, brought to me. She had smashed the poor creature to within an inch of its life and I wasn’t able to tell what it was from the mangled, twitching remains in the paper towel (although I did scream pretty loudly when it started wiggling). From what I could tell, I didn’t recognize it as a “bad” Museum bug. No picture for this one. Moving on…

Next, I came in one morning to a Tupperware container on my desk holding an unusually large (over an inch long) beetle. I definitely didn’t recognize it, so I started my research and quickly found it to be a harmless Grapevine Beetle that frequents the vineyards of New England. Again, not a threat to our collections. I let him go outside and hope to never see him again!

Just a day or so later, our intern, Kelly, found a quick little beetle in the study room where she was working. He wound up in a Tupperware container on my desk as well. My attempts to identify him haven’t been nearly as successful as they were with Mr. Grapevine Beetle. His case (and his survival) have been severely hampered (okay, I admit it, he died) by my suspicions that his tastes might not be so innocuous. I won’t give up on identifying him just in case I am right, but his rather generic coloring and lack of markings is making it a challenge.

For the record, I don’t mind this odd little part of my job, but I DON’T DO SPIDERS. I would just as soon pull out my Al Pacino-style machine gun and take care of it that way!

Stephanie Hebert

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