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Using the Thermo lignum heat process for treatment of natural history specimens - Research and practical experience. David Pinniger. Integrated pest management is essential to prevent insect damage to collections. Main components of IPM. Checking for pests Good housekeping

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Using the Thermo lignum heat process for treatment of natural history specimens-Research and practical experience

David Pinniger

main components of ipm
Main components of IPM
  • Checking for pests
  • Good housekeping
  • Good environment without extremes of temperature or humidity
  • Quarantine procedures to prevent introduction of live pests
  • Safe and effective control treatments for objects
options for control treatments
Options for control treatments
  • Low temperature
  • Anoxia
  • Carbon dioxide
  • High temperature
low temperature
Low temperature
  • -20°C for 2 weeks
  • -3o°C for 3-5 days
  • Effective but objects MUST be bagged to prevent moisture changes
carbon dioxide
Carbon dioxide
  • Effective, but exposure can take 3 weeks or more
  • Issues with registration in some countries
anoxia
Anoxia
  • Can be effective, but exposure can take 3 – 5 weeks
  • Difficult to maintain 0.3% oxygen for a long period
  • Not effective for some wood borers
heat treatment historical use of heat to kill insects
Heat treatmentHistorical use of heat to kill insects
  • Heating food on sheets in tropics
  • Heating buildings to kill food pests
  • Heating insect drawers to kill carpet beetles
how high a temperature do you need to kill insects
How high a temperature do you need to kill insects?
  • 52°C for most museum pests
  • 55°C g for some woodborers such as Hylotrupes

1 to 2 hours exposure will kill

insect eggs, larvae, pupae and adults

the main issues using heat with uncontrolled humidity
The main issues using heat with uncontrolled humidity
  • Drying out of objects
  • Splitting, shrinkage and cracking
what happens if you control the humidity to a set level
What happens if you control the humidity to a set level?
  • There is no transfer of moisture from the object to the environment
  • No shrinkage, cracking or distortion
development of the thermolignum chamber
Development of the ThermoLignum Chamber
  • Computer controlled heat/ chamber with RH control developed in Germany
  • UK chamber in operation since 1994
  • Chambers also in Austria, Norway Switzerland and Belgium
operating system
Operating system
  • The key is to introduce moisture in the heating cycle
  • Remove moisture in the cooling cycle
practical treatments
Practical treatments

Objects treated for major UK museums include:-

  • Books
  • Archives
  • Textiles
  • Leather
  • Upholstery
  • Wooden objects
  • Contemporary Art
trials at the natural history museum london
Trials at the Natural History Museum London
  • Mammals
  • Birds
  • Crustacea
  • Insects
  • Vascular plants
  • Bryophytes
  • Lichens
  • Fish
further trials to measure relative humidity inside insect drawers
Further trials to measure relative humidity inside insect drawers
  • Generally very stable and consistent conditions in closed insect drawers
  • Key issues

Spacing of drawers

to ensure sufficient

air circulation space

[See Ackery et al 2005 for details]

what is the effect of heat treatment on dna
What is the effect of heat treatment on DNA?
  • Some concerns that 52°C may affect subsequent DNA extraction from specimens
  • Trials of fresh and aged insect material at the NHM London showed no effect on DNA extraction

[See Ackery et al 2004 for details]

other research
Other research

Kigawa et al2003

  • Tested the effects of a range of treatments on DNA of fungi and chicken meat

Heat, freezing and anoxic treatments had no measurable effects on DNA

key benefits in practice
Key benefits in practice
  • Speed of treatment - 24 hour cycle
  • No need to bag objects – particularly costly with large scale freezing programmes
  • Energy consumption - Need for detailed cost breakdown of -30C for 3-4 days and +52C for a few hours
heat treatments in the future
Heat treatments in the future?
  • Ensure that there is clear understanding of the difference between heat treatments with and without controlled humidity
  • Demonstrate the low risks to collections from controlled humidity heat treatments
  • Wider acceptance in the light of advantages of labour input and energy budget
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