Long-term changes in climate and insect damage in historic houses

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Publication Type:

Journal Article


Brimblecombe, Peter; Lankester, Paul;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 58, Number 1, p.13-22 (2013)


Insect pests are an important source of concern in historic houses as the larval stages in particular can feed on a variety of important heritage materials, causing significant and sometimes irreparable damage to collections. Damage to wood and textiles is a special problem. The lifecycles of insects are sensitive to climate and require relatively warm conditions. There has been a significant increase in the presence of insect pests within historic houses in the early twenty-first century. The reasons may include: warmer winters, widespread use of natural fibres, less potent insecticides, and occupation of new niches indoors. The interior climate, especially increasing warmth, offers the potential for greater insect growth and survivability. Modelling changes in the temperature and humidity within the Cartoon Gallery at Knole, southern England, for the period 1770‐2100 suggests a dramatic increase in favourable temperature conditions through the current century.