Thursday, May 24, 2007

Unexpected Visitors

McColleague entered the office, hands cupped together. "I need the bug jar!" she cried.

I leapt into action, retrieving the clear plastic pot and lid we keep for such times. A moment later we stood back and peered at the small insect within. It didn't look like much, but we both recognised it for the pest it is. A clothes moth.

"Where did you find this again?" I asked.
"On the bed."

I groaned. This was bad. The bedroom houses some gorgeous textiles, and would, naturally, be the last place we'd want a moth infestation.

Sure enough, upon investigation, we found many more insects in the bedding and a treasure trove of bug activity between the carpet and underlay.

We don't use pesticides for such things. The recommended treatment is to put the textiles into a sealed plastic bag and then freeze them for a minimum of two weeks. This was fine for the bed covers, curtains and rug, but has left us with a bit of a problem with the mattress, carpet and underlay. The mattress is hand stitched and stuffed with hair and lambswool. I have a feeling it is also home to stuffed moth larvae, glutted on a feast of natural fibres.

The Wardens - New and Lovely - were kind enough to come and help us move the heavy four poster bed and drag out the heavy carpet. We have left them in charge of those items too large to freeze, while I await curatorial instruction, though if we wait too long there is a chance they'll do a bit of purification through fire. A manky old mattress and a carpet will go nicely on their next bonfire.

Of course, all of this occurred about an hour before we were due to open, so we had to close of the bedroom while I hurriedly made an explanatory notice and laminated some pictures of the bedroom as it should look, when its soft furnishings are not in the nearest freezer.

Still, there were some more welcome visitors today. In our courtyard area we have a corner where we sell plants. We also sell bird boxes. We have some really pretty, twee, painted ones. We also have some very rough and ready rustic ones, that Lovely Warden made with visiting children at one of our wildlife events earlier this year.

As we stood in the courtyard, Lovely Warden noticed a blue tit coming and going from one of the boxes. He waited until she'd flown off and had carefully lifted the lid on the box. Peering into the gloom within, he suddenly broke into a wide grin. "I thought so," he said. "I could see it was worms she was taking in, not nest material." He beckoned me over. There in the box was a fluffy mass of baby blue tits.

"Awwwwww," I said, going into instant soppy mode. "Fancy choosing here, where all the public come to buy plants! Ooh, I'd better make a sign!" I had horrible visions of someone picking up the box and rattling it, not knowing it was in use. Since then, I've discovered the box next door has also got a nest inside - no chicks yet, but two eggs. We saw the same blue tit going into both boxes.

"Can it really have two homes on the go?" I asked.

"Oh yes," nodded Lovely Warden. "If it's from Local Town it's probably servicing the whole street."


cogidubnus said...

Re the "merfs" or rather their larvae, I believe there is now a carbon dioxide treatment for such pests - in brief the affected items are stacked in the centre of a sealed room and a silvered plastic balloon (roughly cubical) is built around them with the edges hermetically sealed...the atmosphere is then extracted as far as is possible, then Carbon Dioxide is pumped in - Cant remember how many days it's left but apparently it works for many forms of insect infestation...

I believe the TV programme I saw was about Beaulieu but I may be mistaken...

Re the tits I am very pleased and relieved to hear they are equally distributed on two adjoining sites.

Doris said...

Cogi - I have now received mattress advice from the conservator. (And I just know you're on tenterhooks about this one.)I am to turn it, hoover it, wrap it in plastic and await a delivery of "Constrain". We have decided to burn the carpet, as we never liked it anyway.

Reg Pither said...

I don't think you should let the visitors come and stare at your tits! That's taking devotion to duty too far.
(Bet you were wondering who would be the first prole to make a "tit" gag? Happy to help.)

cogidubnus said...

and the tits?

Doris said...

Both well.