Pests at Watts Gallery...

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Posted 13th February 2018

Pests at Watts Gallery...

After some years of doing different tasks at Watts Gallery, from keeping potential laggards moving during Friends' visits to serving drinks at Gallery Events, I found a niche working with curatorial staff in Pest Management and Control or as some of my more polite volunteer colleagues describe it “bug hunting". Everyone who visits the Gallery, the Studio or Limnerslease will have seen the small green cardboard items at points by the skirting boards or in corners; some will also have seen the rather more obtrusive (but recently taken down) black and white striped hanging items. These are pest traps and, in their way, they are potentially just as important to the well-being of the exhibits and the fabric of the buildings as the fire and intruder alarm systems and the environmental control systems. Certainly no-one lending Watts their prized picture for an exhibition would be any happier if it were to be gnawed than they would have been had it been burned or stolen.

My task is to record systematically any insects that are caught on the traps; some (such as woodlice, earwigs, common spiders and house flies) are harmless whilst others could pose a threat to the collection or the buildings (including various moths, certain beetles and silverfish). Once I have identified a pest threat, then Gallery curatorial staff can take the appropriate action to eradicate the pest. So if you see me on my hands and knees in a corner, I am doing something worthwhile!

The same is true in the home. Insects, although interesting, may not be your cup of tea. It is the larvae that generally pose a threat, so the adults are the warning that a threat might be developing or has developed. Most moths and beetles pose a threat as do silverfish; black ground beetles, ladybirds (good), woodlice, earwigs and spiders do not pose a threat

John Vardon
Curatorial Volunteer
Watts Gallery - Artists' Village