Now then. bugs. The Joker to conservation’s Batman. Some quite harmless and some not so nice. Lucky for us we have a secret weapon in the fight against pesky pests in the form of Margaret Jones. She was good enough to give me a crash course in pest control as part of my conservation training.Basically they can be categorised into moths, beetles and other pests. They can be quite tricky customers to spot. (sometimes with hats, dark glasses and pretend to read newspapers with holes cut out but we’re on to them.) On the moth watch list are – ‘Webbing Clothes moth’, ‘Case Bearing moth’, ‘Indian Meal moth’, ‘Brown House moth’, and ‘White Shouldered moth’. The adult moths themselves don’t pose too much of a problem, it’s the young larvae that eat wool, fur, feathers, silks, skins, dried food etc.( kids today…) The ‘Case Bearing moth’ even makes a cocoon from the textile fibres they chomp on. (would you visit a house and make a coat out of the carpet?) As for beetles the two main categories are pest and non pest. The worst offenders are ‘Death Watch beetle’, ‘Wood Weevil’, ‘Brown Carpet beetle’, ‘Two Spot beetle’, ‘Larder beetle’, ‘Cigarette beetle’- (the smoke gives him away !).
‘Furniture beetle’, ‘Biscuit beetle’, ‘Australian spider beetle’- (strewth mate!) ‘Golden spider beetle’, ‘Guernsey carpet beetle’, ‘Varied carpet beetle and ‘Volkswagen beetle’. (spot the odd one out!) As with the moths the adults don’t tend to cause that much damage, (unless they have a skinfull on a friday night). So it’s the larvae to look out for too. They have a strict calorie controlled diet of wood, wool, fur, feathers, silk, skins, dried food, and plant material. As they are all quite tiny we do have an identification chart we use with photo’s, size, previous convictions etc. So you can see why their ‘names are not on the list’ when it comes to admittance. Non-pest beetles would get anoyed if they didn’t get a mention, so they are ‘Mealworm beetle’, ‘Black ground beetles’, ‘Fungus beetle’, ‘Plaster beetle’ and the ‘Harlequin ladybird’. Other pests who get a shout out are ‘Woodlice’ who go for rotting wood, ‘Common booklouse’ and ‘Silverfish’, (who are silver but aren’t fish) who both love the smell of textiles, damp paper and books in the morning.
We have sticky traps laid out in various places in the house ( a bug version of ‘Total Wipeout!’ ) The plan is that the odd stray micro-beastie will wander in and give us an idea of who’s about and if there’s an increase in numbers. All this info get’s recorded on to a spreadsheet so we can build up a room by room idea of who’s about when no-one is looking….