One of our annual jobs in early summer time is to check our pest traps. This gives us an idea of what insects and pests we have in the house so we can take steps to get rid of them.
There is usually 1 pest trap to a room, with the biggest rooms having 2 or 3. There are usually placed out of sight, though you might be able to spot 1 or 2 next time you visit. We place them along walls as this is where pests tend to move around, as it is more protected.
Some pests are more dangerous to have in a historic house than others, but in general we try to discourage them by regular hoovering, dusting and cobwebbing. The pests that are not dangerous to the collections tend to attract larger pest like mice and rats, which can cause more damage in the short-term.
One of the most frequent unwanted pests at Standen is silverfish. Silverfish graze on the microscopic moulds that grow on books and leather. As they graze, they quite often take layers off with them, completely destroying the item. Silverfish also eat some of the wall papers here at Standen, which is something we monitor closely.
Silverfish are not the only thing we need to worry about. What is alarming is that we are finding the larvae of varied carpet beetles, otherwise known as woolly bears. They eat wool, fur, feathers, silk and skins - here we mostly find evidence of them on the carpets and the curtains. They will eat the material down to its backing, obliterating any trace of its patterns and colours.
One of the things that we found on a lot of the pest traps were millipedes and centipedes. They typically love damp conditions, which due to rains over the winter and spring this year, has caused some issues with damp walls. So maybe is not as surprising as we originally thought! They are completely harmless to the collections but they do attract other more carnivorous pests and animals.