Save My Books!!!

Marcus Tullius Cicero a Roman Philosopher quoted; “A room without books is like a body without a soul.” which is true in every sense.

images (5)Books are the written proof of all the worldly knowledge and are the record of the history. Everyone has collection of books be it a five year old or a ninety nine year old; it can be ones personal diary or an encyclopedia. A writer pours his heart and soul in a book, a scientist jots down his/her brilliant ideas in book and a business man pours his ‘Money’ in the book. Though the concept of e-copy of every book is new in trend, the concept of hard copy will never cease to exist.

Chemically describing, books are made up of paper which is a made of cellulose, hemi-cellulose, lignin with some non-organic additives. Cellulose is one of the many things that form food for a vast variety of insects.

In the world there are about 900,000 different kinds of insects living. Among these there are those which feed on books and destroy them.

There are several types of bookworm or insects which eat through books. Actual book-borers are uncommon. Both the larvae of the beetle and the common furniture beetle will tunnel through wood and paper if it is nearby the wood.

images (4)A major book-feeding insect is the booklouse. A tiny under 1 mm, soft-bodied wingless psocoptera, that actually feeds on moulds and other organic matter found in ill-maintained works, although they will also attack bindings and other parts. It is not actually a true louse.

Many other insects, like the silverfish or cockroach will consume these molds and also degraded paper or the starch-based binding pastes – warmth and moisture or high humidity are prerequisites, so damage is more common in the tropics.

images (1)Termites are another class of insects which eat anything and everything including books. The destruction of the books by such insects and bugs is a nuisance exiting since centuries. Heavy damages are caused to the books in the Library where thousands of books on varied subjects are present, but are also a likely place to house insects, termites etc.

 Termites turn rare books history

10th July 2011

M_Id_223298_Books_eaten_by_termites_at_Government_Divisional_Library_at_Vishrambaug_wadaNibhandh Mala written by Vishnu Krishna Chiplunkar in 1917 is a rare book, not available in the market. The only copy of the book available in the 60-year-old Government Divisional Library at Vishrambaug wada may soon end up in the gullets of termites. Termites have partially eaten its pages.

Mathrubhumi, Maneka Gandhi

March 2011

imagesI know that termites are sentient creatures and I know that they have been made by the gods for a specific reason. But this year I have been under savage attack by armies of termites and I have lost antique books (an 1847 royal edition of Shakespeare’s plays among others) and lots of saris, shawls and clothes to them burrowing into my cupboards from the back. I have to throw out my beautiful wooden cupboards and get ugly steel ones.  

Insects destroy Idaho County’s historic documents

October 2012

Lincoln County Clerk Suzanne McConnell says volunteers discovered the damage as they were working to digitize old, paper records, including court 121003_insects_eat_docs_FSjudgments, birth certificates, marriage licenses, land deeds and permits. The records – some dating back to the 1930s – were all kept in the vault below the county courthouse. At least two books of documents have been permanently destroyed by bugs that appeared to have tunneled through pages.
The setback hasn’t stalled the process of putting the rest of the county’s older records in digital form. McConnell said that process could take another four to six weeks

There are many methods being used from centuries to keep the books safe. Some of the common used methods are:

  • Applying neem oil or castor oil in the area surrounding the books
  • Drill holes into infested areas and apply orange oil, or d-limonene.
  • Have a professional heat treat your house. The temperature of the house and contents is brought to 120 degrees F and kept there for 33 minutes
  • Use of pesticides and chemicals
  • Some even suggest that use of turmeric helps to keep the insects at bay

But such treatments are just a temporary solution and some of them even prove harmful when chemicals are used as a measure. The termites and insects are also known to have the same survival instinct as that of humans. They disappear for some time when the above mentioned solutions are employed but are back to enjoy their feast.

Maneka Gandhi told to Mathrubhumi, “I don’t subscribe to killing as a long term solution to anything (though the loss of my books has really brought me close to the edge!!)”

There has to be a solution which is long lasting, less harmful and keeps the insects at bay.

Termirepel is the solution which can solve the dilemma of people like Maneka Gandhi. It is non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly repellent. It does not kill the termites but helps to keep them at bay. Along with termites it repels all other insects which are capable of damaging books in any way possible. Termirepel is available in Lacquer form which can be mixed with any coatings and also in liquid solution form.

Combirepel™ is another such non-toxic, non-hazardous and environment friendly repellent. It repels termites, insects as well as rodents. It is available in the Combirepel WP (Wood protection) solution.

Butterflies- magnificent but endangered…

Butterflies are magnificent creatures- vibrant and colorful. butterfly. They are very important for our ecosystem. Some butterflies have evolved symbiotic and parasitic relationships with social insects such as ants. Some species are pests because in their larval stages they can damage domestic crops or trees; however, some species are agents of pollination of some plants, and caterpillars of a few butterflies   eat harmful insects. Butterflies exhibit polymorphism, mimicry and aposematism. Butterflies may have one or more broods per year. The number of generations per year varies from temperate to tropical regions with tropical regions showing a trend towards multivoltinism. Butterflies feed primarily on nectar from flowers. Some also derive nourishment from pollen tree sap, rotting fruit, dung, decaying flesh, and dissolved minerals in wet sand or dirt. Butterflies are important as pollinators for some species of plants as they can carry pollen over long distances.

monarch on milkweedAmong the many species of butterflies a special mention has to be made of the truly breath taking Monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies named so because of their huge size are also called as wanderers mostly because of the characteristic trait they exhibit of migration. These butterflies are famous for their southward migration and northward return in summer from Canada to Mexico and Baja California which spans the life of three to four generations of the butterfly. Monarch butterflies are one of the few insects which can cross the Atlantic. Monarch butterflies primarily feed on milkweed plants which contain cardiac glycosides which make them distasteful as preys and thus protect them from their predators.

 Decline in insect populations over long periods is viewed as a natural phenomenon but this is   not true in case of Monarch butterflies. “Monarchs have been faced with the loss of habitat for many years”, said Jen Baker, Head-of-the-Lake Land Trust Program coordinator for the Hamilton Naturalists’ Club.

Milkweed, the Monarch larvae’s main food source as well as whereegg on milkweed they lay their eggs, has been depleting. The main reason for this steady decline is the unrestricted use of pesticides and weedicides. These harmful and toxic chemicals might protect the other plants from insects but they sure manage to kill the milkweed plant. The number of milkweed plants has decreased by 58 percent from 1997 to 2010 almost entirely from losses in cultivated fields due to indiscriminate use of herbicides. An army of volunteers in the U of M-based Monarch Larva Monitoring Project has been collecting data on the numbers of monarch eggs per milkweed plant in more than 800 milkweed patches around the country Also, since monarchs lay more eggs on milkweeds if they’re in cultivated fields, egg production was disproportionately affected by the loss of agricultural milkweed plants. The researchers estimate that between 1999 and 2010, monarch egg production in the Midwest dropped by 81 percent.

Christine Dell’Amoremonarch-butterfly-populations-dropping-migration_65367_600x450 of National Geographic News wrote in her article dated 18th March, 2013 that  in December 2012, scientists surveying Monarch habitat in Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve found the insects  occupied 59 percent less land than the previous year—the smallest area recorded in 20 years. Nine butterfly colonies were found in just 2.94 acres (1.19 hectares) of land, compared with 7.14 acres (2.89 hectares) in 2011 and a high of 44.9 acres (18.19 hectares) in 1997, according to the report, released March 13.

This is alarming news for the Monarch butterflies as well as us since widespread depletion of Monarch butterfly populations will have a direct effect on the pollination of some flowers and subsequently disturb the food chain. Thus it is the need of the hour to curb the use of toxic and harmful chemicals as weedicides and switch over to a more environment friendly as well as non-toxic way to protect the plants while ensuring that non-target species like butterflies are not harmed in any way.  Termirepel and Rodrepel are coming of age products which have the unique attributes of being non-toxic and environment friendly insect and pest aversives. They are meant to repel and not kill the target species and have no effect whatsoever on non-target species like butterflies which are very helpful in pollination.