Pests eating a hole in our history

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Heritage staff at Comhairle nan Eilean Siar are going to war with some hungry pests determined to eat a hole in our island history.

Moths and wood boring beetles at the Marybank Museum Store have caused damage to some historical artefacts many of which are made of wool or wood.

A spokesperson for the Comhairle said pests problems were a common problem for museum services.

They said: “Common to all museums is the need for a strategy for managing pest problems in an efficient and environmentally sound manner without compromising the safety of collections, museum staff or visitors. At the Marybank Museum Store the fight against moths and wood boring beetles is a recurring challenge. Wood boring beetles are known fact of life here in the Outer Hebrides and the Museum nan Eilean collection contains a great deal of wool and wooden artefacts.”

Conservation Officer, Michael Loftus with members of the Heritage Team have identified the most vulnerable collections which include Hebridean Blankets. These have now been wrapped for isolation and freezing to prevent further spread.

The team have also conducted a deep clean of affected areas and inspection of collections to ensure there are no hiding places.

A spokesperson for the Comhairle added: “Further to these physical measures the team has reaffirmed its commitment to good integrated pest management procedures, and will be conducting regular deep cleans and inspections and making sure incoming objects are subject to the correct level of scrutiny.”

There are also plans for a Quarantine Room at the facility as they explained: “Going forward the museum will be investing in equipment like a modular cold room and the Conservation Officer will be comparing different treatment methods including freezing, fumigation and zero oxygen anoxia techniques. As with all events this has presented a learning opportunity which in time we will be able to share with the Comainn Eachdraidh and other heritage partners.”

The battle with pests is an ongoing process with the Comhairle’s Heritage team following a long term schedule to ensure the buildings and collections are kept pest-free.