Herbarium Pests and Their Control

Various pest organisms can feed on or otherwise infest herbarium specimens, causing damage to irreplaceable historical collections and reducing the usefulness of the material for research.

Common problem organisms found in herbarium collections include:

Website Resources

Pest Management Survey 2009

In 2009, CANB conducted a pest management survey of all Australian herbaria. This spreadsheet (Microsoft Excel format) summarises the results.

Control Measures


The recommended AQIS treatment for controlling insect pests is freezing at -18°C for 7 days or greater. This is currently (September 2009) the main and most effective pest management tool used in CANB.


At CNS, a space spray Insectigas (Dichlorvos) is used in all rooms once or twice a year. External band spraying using a residual control agent Biflex (Bifenthrin) is conducted around all external entry points e.g. the emergency exit door.

Anoxic storage

DNA now contains most of its carpological material in anoxic (oxygen-reduced) storage, using barrier film plastic sleeves. A summary of this storage method can be viewed on a poster presented at the 2009 ASBS annual meeting.

Hazardous Residues on Herbarium Specimens

The use of chemical preservatives and pest controls must be considered in light of the possible effects on herbarium users and specimens, and the risks mitigated.

Some relevant papers on this issue include:
  • Oyarzun, R. et al. (2007). Mercury in air and plant specimens in herbaria: A pilot study at the MAF Herbarium in Madrid (Spain). Science of the Total Environment 387: 346–€“352

  • Purewal, V. (2001). The Identification of Four Persistent and Hazardous Residues Present on Historic Plant Collections Housed Within The National Museum and Galleries of Wales. Collection Forum16(1-2): 77–€“86.

    This paper reports on the identification of residual poisons (including mercury and arsenic) on herbarium specimens, tests staff members for indications of contamination, and identifies safe working procedures for staff working with contaminated specimens

  • Purewal, V. et al. (2008). Developing a simple screening method for the identification of historic biocide residues on herbarium material in museum collections. X-Ray Spectrometry 37: 137–141.


I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
ASBS_Poster_-_Anoxic_Storage.jpgjpg ASBS_Poster_-_Anoxic_Storage.jpg manage 758 K 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.BenStuckey  
ASBS_Poster_Final.jpgjpg ASBS_Poster_Final.jpg manage 2 MB 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.BenStuckey  
BRI_Insect_pest_control.docdoc BRI_Insect_pest_control.doc manage 23 K 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.AlanBolin  
Pest_mgnt_techniques_Aus_herbaria_2009.xlsxls Pest_mgnt_techniques_Aus_herbaria_2009.xls manage 37 K 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.FrankZich  
Psocid.jpgjpg Psocid.jpg manage 29 K 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.UnknownUser  
drugcl.gifgif drugcl.gif manage 18 K 2011-11-23 - 16:32 Main.UnknownUser  

Skin Browser

Need to add skin selector, and then appropriate details System.WidgetsSkin options:
powered by the community. 28th October 2008.