Victoria Pearce


There is a lot of discussion about integrated pest management within the industry and often things are put in place and set and left.

Obviously for most collections there are numerous pests, mice, rats, carpet beetle case moth and webbing moth. Problematically when dealing with rodent bait we may be inviting carpet beetle.

Endangered Heritage has been asked to do several store assessments in the last month. In all of these reviewing the integrated pest management and risk to the collection is an important part of the assessment. Several stores had suspected carpet beetle and finding the weak link is important.

Firstly I want to point out that last summer’s rain and humidity created perfect conditions for dormant eggs to hatch and flourish. Where drought had done its part protecting our collections for us, the good days are over. We are being faced with new plague proportions of carpet beetle in Canberra and across the East Coast at the moment. Probably over all of Australia.

Pheromone baited sticky traps are regularly used to draw insects away from collection items and can be a useful tool for managing moths including the variegated carpet beetle. Obviously putting these in amongst edible collection items is the same as sending insects and invite to a smorgasbord. Some items are particularly attracting. Native insects like native fur and horse blankets/equipment can really attract insects even if they themselves are not eaten much, nearby costumes or textiles will be. Careful placement of traps is important.

Recent outbreaks of carpet beetle in some stores had me critically searching for the epicenter of the insects. Looking for the particular garment or item, which was drawing them in. Shockingly it was discovered that the rodent bait was the attractant. Acting as a pheromone trap, in fact more efficiently! Many of the waxy blocks of warfrin, based poison were riddled with holes and fat woolie bears, empty carapaces and happy large beetles starting the next life cycle. The cardboard boxes used to hold the bait full of frass from several generations already. The pest contractor seeing the bait disappear was just adding more to the box and feeding the carpet beetles like pets.

Reviewing the practice of using rodent bait inside stores and buildings, their location in store near high risk textiles as well as reviewing the relative risk of rodents versus carpet beetle is very necessary given we have already had a fairly warm October with rain.

I wish to also point out that the frass containing warfrin is a blood thinner effecting heart function and dangerous, so please do not breath in the dust.

Endangered Heritage is doing further research on this issue and hopes to submit a paper to the AICCM Bulletin shortly but given the climate and the renewed outbreaks of carpet beetle an advance advice was considered responsible. If you have any concerns, issues or observations please feel free to contact me.

Thanks to AICCM for allowing me to notify colleagues who may not have been aware of this issue.