Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties Center for Conservation Science
Department of Art Research, Archives and Information Systems Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation
Department of Intangible Cultural Heritage


A workshop on insect damage to wooden cultural properties organized in Isfahan, Iran

A scene from the workshop
A field survey on the damage situation of a historic building

 Structures of historical buildings in Iran are mainly made of bricks or clay walls. However, wood is also used for making its roof frame, beams, window frames and so on. Damage of termites is found extensively in the central to southeastern parts of Iran, including Isfahan according to a preliminary survey conducted last fiscal year, and it is the major issue of the conservation of historical buildings in these regions. Termites are notorious as an insect pest for wooden materials. Their damage used to be widely found in Japan as well, but preventive measures have been gradually established to date. In order to support for establishing appropriate measures for conserving wooden built heritage and historical objects in Iran by sharing such knowledge, Tokyo National Research Institute for Cultural Properties (TNRICP) and Iranian Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHHTO) co-organized a workshop on insect damage to wooden cultural properties in Isfahan from April 17th through 19th, 2017.
 From Japan, Mr. Masahiko TOMODA and Mr. Hiroki YAMADA of the Japan Center for International Cooperation in Conservation of TNRICP, Mr. Yukio KOMINE of the Center for Conservation Science of TNRICP and Mr. Kazushi KAWAGOE, Senior Researcher of Institute for Environmental Culture, participated in the workshop. From Iran, more than 20 experts got together from various parts of the nation, including Yazd, Tehran and Gilan, as well as Isfahan. On Day 1 and Day 3, presentations were given from both sides on materials and structures of historical buildings in both countries, and actual cases and monitoring surveys of insect pest damage to them. On Day 2, to discuss specific measures and others, all participants visited historical buildings to conduct a survey to identify termite damage and a test to install IGRs (Insect Growth Regulators) that does not affect the environment badly.
 We heard that after the workshop, ICHHTO began preparation for establishing a new laboratory engaged in research on the prevention of termites in Isfahan. We believe that this workshop was able to contribute to conserving Iran’s valuable cultural heritage in any way.


Basic Research Underway for Developing New Ways of Killing Insect Pests in Historical Wooden Architecture (How to Capture Insect Pests)

A FIT
installation of FIT

 The Center for Conservation Science has been moving forward the basic research on “hot-air processing” as one of the new ways of exterminating insect pests in historical wooden architecture. It heats a structure while maintaining a steady moisture content so that wood or coloration sustains no damage, thereby exterminating insect pests that perforate members inside the building, such as columns and beams, or cause feeding damage to them.
 In research such as this, it is ideal to use insect pests that actually cause damage when evaluating insecticidal effects. However, it becomes necessary to identify ways of collecting living insect pests efficiently or to establish an artificial rearing method to ensure their steady availability. To that end, we here discuss ways of capturing them.
 In the case of ordinary sticky traps for capturing flying insects, because an adhesive substance adheres to the insect pests captured, it is difficult to catch them alive. We therefore looked into how they are captured by applying a method called a Flight Interception Trap (FIT). The FIT utilizes the characteristic that a flying insect shrinks its wings or legs and falls when hitting an obstacle and thus is made up of a transparent collision plate and a trapping container installed underneath.
 When we conducted a survey on insect pests captured by using a FIT at a temple on Mt. Nikko this fiscal year, we succeeded in capturing the intended insect pests (mainly deathwatch beetles) alive. Being able to capture them alive can not only provide clues to elucidating their biology or life history but also lead to artificial rearing.
 We believe that it is important to accumulate the results of such basic research activities as the foundation underpinning the development of new ways to exterminate insect pests in historical wooden architecture.


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