Pest control is a major concern for the MVZ collections. Damage to specimens can be caused by a variety of pests found in food, paper, and other materials. Dermestid beetles from the prep lab also can cause damage to specimens. Any new material brought into the museum (specimens, books, field equipment) must first be frozen for at least one to two weeks in the Prep Lab walk-in freezer (~ -25°C), then quarantined for another week, before being brought to the museum gallery or offices. The museum also has specific guidelines for food waste, and conducts an annual topical spray. Our comprehensive Pest Manual was created after a pest outbreak that threatened a portion of the collection.
Undergraduate Research Apprentice (URAP) students periodically serve as “Pest Detectives” to check the collections for signs of infestations. Pest Detectives look through the dry skin and skeletal collections for signs of a pest infestation. They also check sticky traps placed inside the cases. If an infestation is found, specimens are removed and frozen for at least one week in the walk-in freezer of the MVZ Prep Lab. All remnants of pests are removed and cleaned – both on specimens and inside cases. Specimens are carefully put back into the cleaned cases after going through quarantine. Having insect identification skills is a major bonus for this position.