To ensure that specimens are free of pests before they enter the collection, all incoming specimens are frozen in the large walk-in freezer located in Prep Lab. The term “incoming specimens” refers to the following:
- Incoming loans from other institutions
- Outgoing loans that have been returned
- Any specimens used by classes/individuals outside the building
- Any new, previously prepared materials (i.e., donations)
Specimen that require freezing and quarantine include skins, feathers, skeletons, eggs, and nests. Fluid-preserved specimens do not need not be frozen.
Specimens that have been shipped to the Museum should be unpacked as quickly as possible. If there is no one available to unpack the box within a few days of arrival, it should be stored downstairs in the Prep Lab pest control storage room (VLSB 1168B) in the appropriately labeled case until a curatorial assistant can prepare the materials for freezing.
Preparing Specimens for Freezing
Never open packages containing specimens within the museum proper. Specimens are to be unwrapped from their shipping boxes and packing materials in Prep Lab.
Carefully unwrap skins and place them directly into a drawer within the quarantine case located in the pest control storage room (VLSB 1168B). Do not crowd the skins together–specimens need to freeze as quickly as possible to eliminate all insects able to initiate super-cooling (i.e., are able to adapt if the temperature change is gradual). Skeleton, egg, and nest specimens should remain in their original specimen boxes, which can be placed directly into a drawer in the quarantine case. Keep loan paperwork in the drawer with its associated specimens.
For each unpacked loan, fill in a freezer label with the following information:
- Loan number
- Short description of contents (including if it’s one of several boxes from the loan)
- Date it will enter the freezer
- Date that it will be removed from the freezer
- Date that it will enter the Quarantine Room
- Date that it may be removed from the Quarantine Room
Use tape to affix the freezer label to the door of the case.
Shipping materials (e.g., boxes, cotton) must also go through the freezing and quarantine process. Because of their density, shipping boxes and shipping materials will sit in the freezer for two weeks to eliminate all possibilities of insect life. Place shipping materials on top of the quarantine case and affix an additional freezer label to the side of each shipping box.
Quarantine cases are transferred in and out of the freezer every Thursday. This allows each set of specimens an entire week at –24 C. Special requests on rush loans can be made between the Curators and Preparator (be aware that specimens need at least five days of freezing).
After a quarantine case has been frozen for one week, the case will be transferred to the Quarantine Room (VLSB 3142) on the Gallery level of the MVZ (adjacent to the elevator). The case will remain in the Quarantine Room for an additional week to ensure no insects have survived the freezing process. When the specimens are ready to be removed, curatorial assistants must take care to check the specimens for signs of insect activity (e.g., insect casings, larvae, droppings, etc.) If anything is found, return all specimens to the case immediately and contact the Preparator or a Curator.