Blog

Unwelcome visitors

By: Dr Mandy Reid, Category: AMRI, Date: 14 Jun 2018

The AM welcomes visitors through the front doors but we sometimes need to wage war against some of those that sneak in the back!

Ingo installing our new plastic insect proof storage crates in the Malacology Collection

Ingo installing our new plastic insect proof storage crates in the Malacology Collection
Photographer: Mandy Reid © Australian Museum

Behind the scenes, Collections and Materials Conservation staff have drawn battle lines and are making every effort to fight one of our most serious enemies.

It is a silent war, but with determination and stealth, we in Malacology are setting up exclusion zones. To lose this war, we jeopardise over 200 years of history, our legacy to future generations, and among one of the States most valuable assets.

The alarm was raised by our compatriots in Materials Conservation. Deadly and devious Lipisma sacharrina, had snuck in amongst us and must be exterminated. Silverfish — seemingly innocuous and mild mannered, but with voracious appetites for paper, books, prints, drawings, and most significantly, museum specimen labels!

In our case (Malacology), while our dry shells (comprised of some 6.5 million specimens at last count) are fairly robust and rarely suffer from any form of insect attack, our labels, containing all the information that goes with each shell, could provide a veritable feast. Without collection information, the shells are useless.

We needed to act. While our collection spaces are temperature and humidity controlled to deter these invaders, the odd ones have broken rank. Cardboard is a target too, because it can provide snug homes in which these pests can live and breed.

So, we enlisted the help of foot soldier, Ingo Burghart, to get rid of every cardboard box in our collection spaces. These boxes were used to store shells awaiting cataloguing or other treatment and until a month or so ago we had over 500 of them. Ingo took to the task of replacement with his characteristic gusto, enthusiasm and cheerfulness.

Job done and battle won (for now).

Mandy Reid
Collection Manager, Malacology .

More information: