Recently I’ve had to deal with an invasion of pests in my museum. No, I’m not talking about any of our visitors! I got a call from one of my coworkers about seeing some ants on her desk. While the office areas do not house any of the museum’s artifacts, pests in one area of the museum can quickly spread, so I’m concerned whenever there are insects spotted anywhere in the building. I checked out the desk and found just a few tiny black ants scurrying around in the drawers. I also spotted some food items which weren’t sealed. I got rid of the ants and the food, told my coworker to let me know if more ants appeared, and reminded the staff to keep their snacks in sealed containers. I hoped it was simply a matter of a few ants blundering into the area.
When I checked the desk the next day, there were a few more ants crawling on it. My coworker had also discovered that they appeared to be coming out of her computer keyboard (yuck!). Most likely there were some crumbs inside the keyboard which were serving as a food source for them. The heat produced by the computer probably also attracted them there. Whatever the reason for their invasion, it was clearly time to call the exterminator!
The exterminator sprayed the windows and around the desk area. I was told that the ant sightings should abate within a few days. However, I was not pleased to observe that over the next few days there were even more ants. I was becoming concerned about them spreading to the rest of the museum!
So, though this certainly isn’t the most glamorous part of my job, it is an important part of protecting the museum building and the artifacts. I see it as one of the ways I earn my Guardian of the Artifacts title!
Photos courtesy of the National Museum of Civil War Medicine.