Every three months Pest Day rolls around for the Manor Team. It may sound strange but Pest Day is very popular amongst the team.
The first order of the day is to round up all the blunder traps in the house. We currently have 81 within the Manor and the Priest’s House (with several of them being in incredibly awkward positions!) A blunder trap is a simple plastic casing with a sticky pad inside that pests just wander in to then become stuck on the sticky part. They’re useful to us so that we can see just what guests we have, where they are and what damage is being done to the collection as a result.
An opened blunder trap containing a woodlice, a spider, a millipede, a deathwatch beetle and a moth.
After all 81 traps have been retrieved they are taken back to the Manor Office and left on the table whilst we go downstairs and make cups of tea. The tea is then taken back up to the office were the real fun begins!
It was Sue’s (Conservation Assistant) turn on opening duty, so she selects the first trap from our list, opens it and inspects it. Then Vicki (Assistant House Steward) notes down the finds on the spreadsheet and Alex (Conservation Assistant) draws the appropriate symbol on the map.
Most of the time the traps look pretty empty, the occasional silverfish or woodlouse here or there. Then there are times when you hear a bit of a squeal from the opener and know you’re in for a treat! This time there were a couple of these where massive beetles had just wondered in from outside and happened to get stuck in the trap. This elicits more of a squeal if they happen to still be alive when the trap is opened, and in this case a difficult (and mostly unsuccessful) rescue mission starts involving a scalpel or other small object trying to peel the beetle off! And on one particularly memorable occasion a pest trap has been opened to reveal the vole inside!
An outside beetle who became stuck on a blunder trap. They’re often still alive, and can be bigger than this one.
The things we most often see are silverfish, woodlice, deathwatch beetles, and some webbing clothes moths. Sometimes we aren’t completely certain of the identity of a pest, so these are compared to our poster with pictures of all the different pests that damage historic houses. Spiders, large beetles and other pests that don’t do any damage to the Collection or the Manor are not recorded.
One of the silverfish we’ve found. Silverfish like places with very high humidity and they can be very damaging:
Some damage that a silverfish has caused to a photograph.
Our conservation heating works to try and make the Manor a less humid place, which will reduce the amount of pests like woodlice and silverfish we get, as well as being beneficial to the Collection and Manor. There are sensors in each room which trigger when a certain humidity set point is reached, which then turns the radiator on to bring the temperature up which means the relative humidity becomes lower. (Warmer air can hold more moisture).
Next season we are planning our Conservation in Action demonstrations to have an ‘Identify the Pest’ area where you can have a go at identifying all the different insects we’ve taken from blunder traps over the past year.