The destruction of herbarium specimens by insect pests is a serious problem. Major pests of concern include book lice and cigarette beetles. The Florida Museum and UF Herbarium have designed proactive pest control protocols in order to prevent collection damage.
- All incoming dry plant materials, whether shipped, hand-carried by visitors or just removed from a plant press, must be either frozen in the herbarium’s freezer (14 days) or fumigated at UF Pest Management Services (usually a few days). Our freezer facilities are limited, so large sets must be routed through Pest Management.
Herbarium Freezing Procedures
- Put the completely dry material in a box and seal the box with plastic tape; – or – bind the material between cardboards and place the bundle in a plastic bag and seal it.
- Clearly label the box or plastic bag with your name and the date. If you require significant space you will need to make prior arrangements with the Collection Manager. Such material is typically routed through UF Pest Management.
- The freezer should be set at or below -20°C (-4°F) and the material should remain at this temperature for a minimum of 7-14 days. If you put a large amount of material in the freezer, allow time for it to chill to the proper temperature.
- After removing the box or bag from the freezer let it sit until the material is at room temperature. This will help reduce the amount of moisture the material may absorb from condensation.
- Once the material is at room temperature it should be unpacked and stored in a herbarium cabinet. Consult with the Collection Manager if you do not have cabinet space assigned to you.
- Please only remove your own boxes from the freezer. See the Collection Manager if there is not sufficient space in the freezer.
UF Pest Management Services Procedures
- Contact UF Pest Management, 352-392-3410, to arrange for the fumigation.
- Location: Building 683 on UF campus. Enter, “683” on the UF Campus Map to highlight the building. The fumigation chamber is actually on the right side of the entry road (N of Bldg. 683).
- The specimens should be secured in boxes and clearly marked: University of Florida Herbarium, Florida Museum of Natural History, 370 Dickinson Hall
Attn: Alan Franck, ph. 352-273-1990.
- Pest Management will deliver the boxes to the Herbarium.
- Pressing and working with fresh plants materials should be confined to the work table of the herbarium’s west loading dock. Although stored product pests are not typically present on fresh plants, other pests such as cockroaches may be present.
- Herbarium cabinet doors should be kept closed as much as possible.
- Evidence of insect damage is to be reported to the Collection Manager at once.
- All material examined is to be returned to an insect-free cabinet the same day. Specimens are never to be left out over night or unattended for long periods.
- Collection users should acquaint themselves with potential insect pests and the signs of their activity and damage:
- Clean surface areas before and after working with specimens on them.
- Keep a careful eye out for insect activity on the specimens you are working with.
- Do not move specimens around the herbarium from cabinet-to-cabinet without consulting with the Collection Manager.