Frequently asked questions

Intro & general IPM questions

A first step for anyone dealing with IPM (Integrated Pest Management) in museums or collections should be to read David Pinniger’s book Integrated Pest Management for Cultural Heritage published by Archetype Publications Ltd. There is also a German version available: Handbuch Integriertes Schädlingsmanagement: in Museen, Archiven und historischen Gebäuden published by Gebr. Mann Verlag.

Do I have an infestation in my collection?2021-01-25T21:12:17+01:00

If you find any acute signs like: wood frass (powder) on or beneath a wooden object, insect shell casings, grazed areas on wool textiles, holes in silk, eaten feathers on a stuffed bird, you should monitor the situation carefully. Don’t panic!

ICM does offer to do site visits to assess the situation.

In the long term the best way to know if you have an infestation is to implement an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. IPM helps to manage and mitigate therisk of lossto your collection and it is imperative to monitor the environment and the objects within that environment. An IPM plan and a rigorous cleaning schedule will help identify a pest infestation before it takes hold. Speak to our staff if you need advice setting one of these up.

Who can help me identify the insect?2019-09-04T22:43:56+02:00

Photograph the insect as close-up and as clearly as possible. If there is any insect damage visible, photograph this too. When approaching us, explain where you found the insect, the material it was found on, approximately how many there are and where the object has been. The more information provided the more likely a positive identification is possible. Insects tend to desiccate quickly, so be careful not to knock off any legs or antennae when collecting. Any information on the temperature and relative humidity in the room where the insect was found is also helpful.

What action do I have to take immediately?2021-01-30T10:58:36+01:00

If you can, quarantine the object in Tyvek or polythene. If that is not possible, quarantine other vulnerable/organic objects in the immediate area of the infested object and monitor them. Contact the office and book the infested item in for treatment. After photographs have been taken, speak to a conservator about cleaning the object and, if necessary, dismantling for travel. Before handling an infested object check the condition carefully as they can be extremely fragile. The use of sticky or pheromone traps can help a great deal in monitoring the scope of the infestation. ICM offers various high-quality traps such as sticky, pheromone, light … talk to us to define what you need for your specific environment and collection.

What action do I have to take in the medium- and long term?2019-09-04T22:43:44+02:00

An IPM programme in your institution or monitoring and robust cleaning schedule in a domestic home can greatly help in preventing an infestation of pests, such as moth and silverfish, from establishing itself. Woodboring insects are more difficult to remove without professional help. Ensure that the environment is not too humid, or damp and/or dusty or dirty as this increases the chances of insect survival.

Is it useful to quarantine objects?2019-09-04T22:43:39+02:00

If there is a known or suspected infestation in an object that is safe to remove from site, do quarantine it, once an infestation spreads it is far more difficult and time consuming to remove. Use polythene or Tyvek®to create a barrier between the object and others. The white fabric of Tyvek®provides quick identification of beetle or frass emergence. Tyvek®can be manufactured to be breathable, but still protect from dust and insects, and will therefore not cause your object to go mouldy whilst in quarantine and observation.

Specific questions relating to ICM treatments

Which objects can be treated by ICM?2021-01-30T11:24:12+01:00

The warm air treatment of moveable heritage and artworks is perfectly suitable for objects containing paper, textiles, leather and fur, varnished and polychrome paint layers and wood. Treated objects include ethnographic pieces, furniture and musical instruments, carpets, tapestries, taxidermy, polychromatic sculptures and paintings. Stable plastics melt or deform only at extremely high temperatures and are not a cause for concern. We regularly treat polythene sheeting used to wrap objects in a bid to prevent unnecessary plastic waste, polystyrene and polyurethane are very stable and will not deteriorate in temperatures of around 50°C.

We can also treat packing cases and shipping crates. We’ve treated rickshaws, motorbikes, grand pianos and giraffes, please just ask. IPARC/ICM is a team of multidisciplinary professional conservators and we understand your needs and questions.

Which materials not to treat?2021-01-30T11:25:29+01:00

There are very few objects or materials we will not treat, only treat after assessing them carefully or treat at lower temperatures with an extended holding phase. These are: parchment, deteriorated untanned leather, wax lined paintings, wax sculptures, deteriorated rubber, improperly varnished objects with insufficient binding between surface and varnish, oil or fat containing natural history specimens or oil or fat containing ethnographic objects.

For the few objects and materials that we do not treat with the ICM method, we offer an alternative treatment in an oxygen-free atmosphere using oxygen scavengers. These treatments take between 6 – 8 weeks. Please ask us for details.

How long will a treatment take?2019-09-04T22:44:59+02:00

An ICM treatment usually takes between 16 and 24 hours. This depends mainly on the maximum diameter of the treated objects: the thicker the object the longer it takes to warm it up.

Are any chemicals or toxic substance involved in the treatment?2019-09-04T22:45:18+02:00

No. The ICM warm air treatment involves just controlled humidity and warm air, free of any toxins or chemicals.

Will boxes need to be unpacked?2019-09-04T22:45:37+02:00

Generally speaking, yes. It is always better to split up objects where possible to allow greater airflow around the objects. There are exceptions though. We will advise case-by-case.

Can I leave my packing material at ICM after having delivered my objects?2019-09-04T22:45:55+02:00

We try (where appropriate) to recycle materials, especially plastic. If your polythene sheeting or Tyvek is carefully removed (i.e. not ripped) we can treat it with the object so you can re-use it to wrap following treatment. Plastic revolution! But we will not keep any packing material in the office.

Does ICM offer transport?2021-01-30T11:31:21+01:00

ICM London does not offer transport. We ask that the client arranges the transportation of their goods. We are also happy to provide recommendations for shipping companies.

ICM Brussels can provide transport through IPARC. Please ask us.

What will ICM need to know about my specific object prior to treatment?2019-09-04T22:48:12+02:00
  • What the object is made of
  • If possible, how and where it has been stored and for how long
  • The full dimensions (H x W x D) of the object
  • When you would like to have it treated
  • Any other details or description regarding the general condition of the object – photographs are always appreciated.
What infrastructure is need for mobile treatments on site?2019-09-04T22:47:55+02:00
  • Accessibility for the 3,9 metres high, 9 metres long and 2,6 metres wide vehicle
  • Even and level surface to park the truck
  • 24/7 access to the truck for our staff
  • 380V/32A electrical connection, within 20m of the treatment
  • Running water/regular tap, within 20m of the treatment site
  • Preferably WIFI connection for remote access to the treatment control PC.

A typical treatment cycle in the mobile unit including loading and unloading may take a little longer than in our static chambers.

How much does the treatment cost?2019-09-04T22:49:15+02:00

The price for treatment is decided by a number of factors, usually its dimensions, but sometimes material.

Each run in the mobile chamber is calculated per run, rather than by object dimensions.

Please speak to staff for more information and to obtain estimates.


+32 16 90 75 90 (Brussels)
+44 20 8747 0900 (London)


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