Many antiques – especially ethnographic decorative artworks – are food sources for insects. Regularly monitor your environment for dead insects and droppings. Search atop and beneath wooden objects for “frass” – a powdery substance left by burrowing pests. Insects bore in wood to lay eggs and - when they hatch - new insects bore out. Because many antiques have bore marks from prior years, the presence of holes alone doesn’t indicate active infestation. Instead, ongoing assessment should differentiate old, harmless holes from those needing attention.
If you find signs of active insects, immediately isolate the infested antique from other objects by wrapping and sealing it in a plastic bag. Avoid bug sprays; their chemical compounds can damage material. While fumigation is the best route, be aware that fumigators and fumigation methods aren’t identical. Many treatments “overkill” the infestation, destroying the antique along with the insects. Luckily, larger extermination companies often feature antique-specific divisions.
Though not a topic for the squeamish, the presence of rodents can also pose problems. Traps are preferable to poison, as a poisoned rodent’s carcass often ends up in hidden areas like walls. This invites insects and, when done with the rodent, their next target may be your valuable objects.