Major insect pests and their associated, diagnostic signs

Common name

Powderpost beetles

Presence indicators and characteristics

Small round holes in wood and floury frass. Lyctids are small brownish adults, attack only hardwoods. Prevalent across Canada and a common problem.

Latin name

Lyctus brunneus and others

Common name

Furniture beetle Cigarette beetle Drugstore beetle

Presence indicators and characteristics

Small round holes in wood and granular frass. Anobiids are most common in wood objects of European origin, but native species (Hemicoelus spp.) can attack structures.
S. paniceum and L. serricorne are severe pests of organics in collections.

Latin name

Anobium punctatum, Lasioderma serricorne, Stegobium paniceum

Common name

Longhorn beetles Old house borer

Presence indicators and characteristics

Large oval holes and cavities in timbers. Cerambycid spp. are a timber pest in Canada. Most will not reinfest seasoned wood.

While introduced species are now damaging hardwood and softwood trees, only Hylotrupes bajulus(old house borer) has the potential to be a severe pest in museum collections due to its capacity to reinfest old timber. It is predominantly limited to the eastern United States.

Latin name

Hylotrupes bajulus

Common name

Wharf borer

Presence indicators and characteristics

Wharf borers have been found in Canadian heritage sites associated with damp timber or wood mill waste.

Latin name

Nacerdes melanura

Common name

Flathead borer

Presence indicators and characteristics

Large oval holes in timber. Metallic-coloured buprestid borers have emerged from timbers in historic sites and collections, sometimes many years after cutting the timber. They are not likely to reinfest.

Latin name

Buprestis aurulenta

Common name

Hide beetles Carpet beetles

Presence indicators and characteristics

Brown-banded “furry” larvae and cast skins found on furs, feathers, or roaming on objects, frass piles, and loose hairs in drawer bottoms. Among the most common of collection pests. Dermestids are natural scavengers of nests and dead animals. Adults associated with wildflowers. Natural history museums use colonies of Dermestes maculatus to clean specimens

Latin name

Anthrenus verbasci, Thylodrias contractus, Attagenus unicolor, Dermestes maculatus, Anthrenus scrophularia

Common name

Webbing clothes moth Casemaking clothes moth

Presence indicators and characteristics

Small, white larvae in webbing or flattened cocoons on surfaces, grazed “channels” on or holes through wool fabric. Common in historic collections and very destructive. Tineid adults are small, whitish moths with fringed wings. Sometimes confused with Indian meal moth infestations.

(Cracked seeds, grains) but Plodia interpunctella has coppery “shoulders”.

Latin name

Tineola bisselliella, Tinea pellionella

Common name

Silverfish

Presence indicators and characteristics

Grazed surfaces or ragged holes in paper. Silvery fish-shaped nymphs and adults, Lepisma have two sweeping antennae and three trailing hairs.

Latin name

Lepisma saccharina

Common name

German cockroach

Presence indicators and characteristics

Nymphs and adults are brown with two dark stripes on thorax. Blattella are very fecund. They aggregate on spilled foods; starches preferred. Can affect objects made with starch pastes.

Latin name

Blatella germanica

Common name

Book louse

Presence indicators and characteristics

Tiny, translucent, bulbous abdomens, commonly wingless. Psocids favour dampness, but can roam for a couple of weeks in drier locations. Commonly grazing microbial contaminants on paper, and a warning of damp conditions.

Latin name

Liposcelis spp.

Common name

Carpenter ant

Presence indicators and characteristics

Large black ants, commonly seen roaming in springtime. Camponotus will hollow out rotted trees or timber, ejecting frass that looks like saw shavings. Can be severe pest of timber in historic buildings, fencing, and susceptible trees on grounds.

Latin name

Camponotus pennsylvanicus, Camponotus herculeanus, Camponotus modoc

Common name

Termites

Presence indicators and characteristics

Subterranean; larvae may build shelter tubes. Adult Reticulitermes can be seen flying (as ants do). Unlike ants, termites have a thicker “waist”. They are a regional hazard in Canada (southern Ontario, southern British Columbia, southern Manitoba). While not yet destructive to heritage in Canada, a potential hazard where present.

Latin name

Reticulitermes flavipes, Reticulitermes hesperus

CCI Technical Bulletin 29.

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: