The Carpet and the Woolly Bears

Pest checking equipment - gloves, tweezers, magnifying glass and plastic bags to stick pests in, at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Pest checking equipment – gloves, tweezers, magnifying glass and plastic bags to stick pests in, at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Not quite Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I’ll grant you, but when looking at the Drawing Room carpet, we do sometimes wonder ‘who’s been eating our lovely Georgian carpet?’  Of course, the main culprit is going to be one of these (look away now if the sight of creepy crawly things unnerves you):

Some of the woolly bears collected from lacquer cabinet in Mrs. Child's Dressing Room at Osterley Park.

Some of the woolly bears collected from lacquer cabinet in Mrs. Child’s Dressing Room at Osterley Park.

The brown objects in the picture above are the larval stage of carpet beetles – more commonly referred to as ‘woolly bears’.  We’ve mentioned about these pests in previous posts and their refined palate (namely our high quality textiles and furniture).  Indeed, they have been found before on items from Osterley’s collection, which is why regular checks are particularly important.  Such inspections are a normal part of the housekeeping routine throughout the year.

Kate checking the Drawing Room carpet for pests at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

Kate checking the Drawing Room carpet for pests at Osterley Park (image: Laura Brooks)

For this reason, Kate, our Conservation Assistant, and one of our trusty volunteers carried out one such inspection of the Drawing Room carpet recently.  With their toolkit of tweezers, vinyl gloves, special conservation lights, torches, magnifying glasses and little see-through bags, they proceeded to hunt for any woolly bears that could be hiding themselves, while having a fine old time on our Robert Adam designed carpet.  As it turned out, success was had as both Kate and her assistant each found a woolly bear that was still alive and wriggling.  Once they were in the plastic bags, though, their wriggling didn’t last for long.

The carpet will have another check in due course, as mentioned above.  This is just part of the work that goes into looking after Osterley’s collection, year after year.

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