Polesden Lacey’s owner Mrs Greville was known for her hospitality, and in the house we try to recreate that atmosphere for our modern visitors – but sometimes we get guests who are less welcome. If you look under furniture and into corners at Polesden, you might spot some small black boxes. These are our pest traps, designed to catch the insects that might eat our collection.
The traps contain a sticky pad that the insects get stuck on as they move around the edges of a room, and we use these to monitor insect numbers in the showrooms and the stores. We have 32 traps in 29 rooms that get checked quarterly and the results recorded on a spreadsheet. This information is sent off to our conservators, and is then used to build up a pattern of insect activity over time at Polesden and other participating properties.
We’re lucky in that Polesden doesn’t have a big problem with insect pests, but we do get a few bugs such as silverfish and booklice (which eat paper) and carpet beetles (which eat textiles). I am currently creating a pest library: a catalogue of the different insects we get at Polesden, with real examples. This should make identification easier as well as providing a useful tool for training and demonstrations.