NEWS FROM THE PRESERVATION OFFICE.
What do insects eat? Insects drink from soft-drink cans you might
think to be.empty. Insects lick at chewing gum wrappers long after the gum
has hardened on the seat-bottom of the chair where someone stuck it.
Insects eat the potato chip crumbs from the bottom of a bag even after
you've seen a mouth vacuum the bag "clean". Insects shall inherit the
The signs are everywhere, like "Don't feed the alligators!" at Lake
Alice. "Don't feed the bugs!" ...the problem is, often, no one sees the
damage an insect does. If food and drink in the Libraries attracted
alligators, -- why -- this would be a different story.
Let's take another look at that can, wrapper and bag. Any insect that
tries to feed one mouth much less a family of mouths on these things alone
is going to go to junk food heaven quicker than any one of us. In reality,
insects in the Libraries eat far more in starch-coated book cloth, binding
adhesives and paper than they can sop-up in soft-drink spoils and spills,
lick from sugar-coated gum wrappers or chow-down in crumbs. It remains
true, however, that insects come to the Libraries, attracted first and
foremost by the sweet and rancid "smells" of food. Food is so much easier
to eat than a book, though I suppose you can't blame an insect for
devouring a book in'the mi4~ of such slim rations. Just about any insect
will do damage to library materials if it needs to eat.
Now,- let's examine library materials-simply. Growing insects need two
things: carbohydrates, such as starch and sugar, and water. Starch-coated
book cloth is.like a plate full of mashed potatoes. It obviously supplies
starch to fill the growing insect's need. Binding adhesives are starch
too, but also contain polysacharides (i.e., basic sugars) and a bit of
"bound" water. Paper is primarily cellulose, a complex mix of starch,
polysacharides.and bound water. -- Yes, if insects ever went to the moon
they'd take the one carbohydrate that "has it all", cellulose! -- Paper
contains at least 2%, by weight, bound water; but with Florida's high
relative humidity, paper becomes down-right water-logged to an insect's
discerning tongue, though that same paper may not even feel damp to you.
Insects in Libraries also feast on the following things:
Dust. Most dust contains hair and other fibers which have nearly the
same chemical make-up as paper. Periodic dusting deters insect
infestations. (Imoortant: Piles of dust that look like saw-dust
should be reported to the Preservation Office, and not dusted
away. This may be the sign of an insect infestation.)
Tea. How many of us keep tea bags in our desk? Tea should always be
kept in a tight sealing tin opened only for use, then quickly
Leather. It's not prime rib, but at one time the rib and the leather
were very close.
Insects. We eat other animals; they eat other insects.
* Food. Generally, they'll even eat what we eat! Any
your desk -- even if you eventually eat it in the
outside -- should also be kept in a tight sealing
food you keep at
tin until you
PLEASE NOTE: THE PRESERVATION OFFICE WANTS TO BE BUGGED. We're a
small operation of just two and one half people. We can't be everywhere,
but we'll be wherever you are if you call (392-0348). If you spot a
problem, report it. If you spot an insect, try to capture it -- so it can
be identified -- then kill any others of that type you may find. And,
remember: Insects can't read. So, if they inherit the earth, you'll be out
of a job! How will you eat then?