Question on "fumigating" herbarium specimens -Reply

Sally Shelton Shelton.Sally at NMNH.SI.EDU
Wed May 12 15:23:33 CDT 1999

Unfortunately, I know of no controlled research on the viability of seed
material after the use of anoxic pest control treatments (=replacement of
oxygen in a closed microenvironment with either nitrogen or CO2). Otherwise,
I'd suggest an anoxic approach. I can attest, after several years of using
this and developing courses on it, that anoxia is a good non-invasive
lowish-tech pest control and storage approach in most other ways. But seed
viability has not been looked at, or even (as far as I know) thought about.
It's a very important question. I think that the seed bank approach for new
material is a good idea. Is anyone willing to discuss research on the
effects of non-chemical pest control methods (frezzing v. anoxia) on seed

Sally Shelton
Collections Officer, NMNH

>>> "Kent E. Holsinger" <kent at DARWIN.EEB.UCONN.EDU> Tuesday, 11 May 1999 >>>

We are fortunate enough to be faced with a problem. Soon we will be
moving our collections into a new facility. One of the things we will
do in transferring the specimens from our present facility to the new
one, is treat all of them for possible pest insect infestation. We
currently freeze all specimens entering the herbarium for a week or
more and have planned to do the same as we move collections to the new
facility. This has the advantage of avoiding noxious insecticides, but
it ensures that the seeds of many tropical plants are killed. Some
types of systematic research require living seeds, e.g., crossing
studies, common garden studies, chromosome studies. Once frozen such
studies are no longer possible on many tropical plant species.

We would very much appreciate any ideas on alternative pest control
methods for herbarium specimens, methods that kill insect pests, but
not the seeds on the specimens.

You can send your replies to the list, to Les Mehrhoff
(vasculum at, to me (Kent at Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu), or to
Greg Anderson (ander at

Thanks for your help.


P.S. If there is interest, I will summarize the replies to the list.

Kent E. Holsinger                Kent at Darwin.EEB.UConn.Edu
-- Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
-- University of Connecticut, U-43
-- Storrs, CT   06269-3043

More information about the Taxacom mailing list