Help! Insects in feathers

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Help! Insects in feathers

Postby Fowl Addict » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:27 pm

Figured some of you taxidermist could possibly give me some advice on a problem I have just noticed, bugs in feathers!
First and foremost I am not a taxidermist nor have I ever claimed to be one, I pay one a lot of money when I want a trophy mounted, just looking for honest opinions and advice. I have held on to 3 turkey fans and a grouse fan for several years thinking I would one day get around to doing something with them along the lines of framing them. These range in age from 2-5 years since the animal was harvested. All I did for preservation was a salt treatment, saturated the base of the fans in salt, any exposed meat or fat I made sure was covered. I pinned them to say 2'x2' pieces of plywood and left them in my barn up on a shelf for a few years. About six months ago I moved and at my new home they found a place in my garage yet again up on a shelf. At that time they still looked almost exactly as they did when I salted them a little dusty and weathered but overall in good shape. I have spent some time and effort making nice shadow boxes for them now that duck season is out and just got to the point where everything was ready to come together.

Then the surprise, I take the fans off the shelf and can visibly see insects in the feathers. There are areas on several fans where insects have eaten holes in the feathers and done quite a bit of damage. I lifted them off the boards and the bottoms and backsides are even worse. At the bases of the fans some of the quills are stripped nearly clean. That being said I still think a couple of them are salvageable. Is there a chemical/preservative I can use to kill these insects/prevent them from returning? Or do I need to toss them and start over on my collection to fill these shadow boxes?

That being said I'm now paranoid that I may have brought the critters in the house with me on my clothing or such. I have several thousand dollars in ducks, geese, turkeys etc. mounted and on display in my home and want to keep them looking pristine. Should I be concerned about my professionally mounted birds in the house now? I have read about spraying mite spray on mounts periodically to protect them... But obviously I don't want to use anything that will potentially harm the mounts.

Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.
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Re: Help! Insects in feathers

Postby The Waterfowler » Wed Mar 05, 2014 5:56 pm

Dermestid beetles sounds like. They eat most everything including the salt which does nothing to preserve meat except make it taste dry and salty. They can be like the plague and infest anything with feathers. Best way to kill them is to seal the fans in plastic bags full of moth balls and even that isn't foolproof. I bug-bomb my rooms where mounts are regularly. I would throw everything in the trash that is infested to keep them from finding their way into mounts you have since turkey and grouse fans can be replaced easily.
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Re: Help! Insects in feathers

Postby bandgitter91 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 9:56 pm

Sounds like a case of dermestid beetles to me too and they do eat everything up. I do not know if you can save em at this point since the beetles have already gotten to them, but for future reference throw them in a bag of borax after you salt them. Borax keeps the bugs off why i do not know but i know that it works.
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Re: Help! Insects in feathers

Postby duxrus » Thu Mar 06, 2014 9:28 am

Borax is more of an insecticide than preservative if I remember correctly. I have seen many a turkey fan where they have only been salted and with similar results. Like Pat said salt cures meat and little more. Over time bugs will eventually get to them. Without getting all the meat off by wheeling a fan you are just leaving a buffet no matter what you treat them with.

I dusted them with sevendust which seems to both deter and kill every type of insect......then put them in a garbage bag and into a freezer for a few weeks to make dang sure anything still present was dead or gone. If you regularly kill turkeys and those specific birds weren't special to you , I would get them gone. I wouldn't chance destroying an entire collection.

I regularly spray my showroom with insecticide along with sprinkling seven dust on the carpet to protect my investment.
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