Capability and Limitations of Anoxic Treatments for Protecting Museum Collections
Without precaution, insects may cause serious damage to museum collections. Quarantine of potentially infested objects can be logistically challenging. Anoxia under controlled nitrogen atmosphere is a most gentle but also time-consuming method to eradicate insect pests in all kinds of different materials. Treatment results are usually affected by duration, temperature, humidity and residual oxygen content. During a two-year research project, 34 relevant pest insect species of all developmental stages were tested in different materials (wood, paper, wool) to monitor treatment success and to determine optimum treatment parameters. Duration of treatment ranged from one to three weeks at temperatures of 20–27 °C. As expected, results showed significant differences in mortality among tested species. Highest tolerance of hypoxic conditions was found in elder larvae of Hylotrupes bajulus. Although this species is an unlikely museum pest, it may serve as an overall most tolerant reference. Anobiids and other wood boring beetles are more often an issue related to cultural heritage. A combination of three weeks exposure time at maximum 0.5 % residual oxygen and 24 °C, alternatively 1 % residual oxygen and 27 °C are recommended for infested artefacts. Imbedding materials in general had no influence on mortality. This study was funded by Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (DBU).