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Contributors: Kelly Krish, Rachael Perkins Arenstein

Pests as a Agent of Deterioration risk factor encompass both vertebrates (e.g. rodents and birds) and insects (beetles, moths, termites, etc.). Some also consider mold/mildew/fungi to fall under this category. Organic materials are particularly vulnerable to damage from pests, including furniture, books and papers, feathers, textiles, and plant materials. Signs that pests may be active in a collection space include: the presence of adult pests, their frass, larvae, or eggs; accumulations of powder or other remnants; or damage in the form of holes, “grazed” surfaces, staining, structural weakening, and loss of material. When this reaches the point where measurable loss occurs (be it financial or aesthetic) or it becomes a health issue, a pest issue is present.

In recent years, health and safety concerns have led institutions away from the regular applications of toxic chemicals (pesticides or fungicides) toward greater emphasis on preventative and protective measures that are not chemical based. A combination of these different measures is known as “Integrated Pest Management,” often abbreviated to the acronym IPM and is now the recommended approach to pests. This focuses on prevention and monitoring, and, should an outbreak occur, the use of temperature or atmospheric control instead of pesticides.