Wednesday, February 11, 2015

How to Sanitize an Herbarium Cabinet

Herbarium specimens (dried plants on pieces of paper) can last for hundreds of years. This apparent immortality, however, is like that of the elves of Middle Earth-- they can still be cut down in battle or slain by disease. The big problem is insects.

To prevent insects from eating specimens, the herbarium archive room is kept at low temperature and humidity since bugs thrive in warm, moist, environments. Insect traps are placed in strategic locations. Most recently in the case of the Emory herbarium, the metal cabinets that contain the specimens are sanitized-- vacuumed with a powerful vacuum, sprayed with a 90% ethanol solution, left to sit, then vacuumed again.

That'll show those insects.

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