This file is a collection of various messages having the common theme moth
proofing wool fiber and felt. The information is primarily
from the feltmaker's list. I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages
having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files
and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, most of the
message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter. The comments made
in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as
to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors. Please
respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The
copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information
is published from these messages, please give credit to the orignator(s).
Pat Spark, Manager of the Feltmaker's List.
Return to feltmakers list FAQ
INDEX QUESTION/ANSWER TOPICS
|Commercially made mothproofing solutions.||Should I mothproof?|
|Making your own mothproofing agent.||What is a clothes moth? When is a carpet beetle the pest?|
|Getting rid of the moths once they're there.|
|Preventing pest damage to wool.||Freezing the moths/pests. Also microwaving them.|
|General information on clothes moths and other pests.||University of California at Davis, page with information about moths|
ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS POSTED TO THE FELTMAKERS' LIST ABOUT MOTHPROOFING
Back to Index
COMMERCIALLY MADE MOTHPROOFING SOLUTIONS
*Merike Saarniit, June 2, 1998. There is a product now available to the "general public" called MothGuard. This was developed from a formula used by makers of precious oriental wool rugs (how'd you like moth holes in your $30,000 rug?). No odor, safe (after all, babies and pets crawl on the treated rugs), remains totally effective from one wash to the next, at which time you just apply it again. That means, if you don't wash the item (e.g. wool rug, felt wall hanging) "ever", the MothGuard remains effective. If you apply it to a sweater and then wash it the next week, you'd need to re-apply it. I apply it to woolens that I store over the summer, yarns I'm not planning on using real soon, washed fleeces I've put into storage, handwoven wool rugs that stay out year round, etc etc.
It comes in a crystallized powder form in either a 22oz, 32oz applicator bottle (has spray pump) or gallon size jug. The manufacturers were smart - YOU add the water, so nobody has to pay to ship water. Of course, when I have this on display at shows, people can't understand why I'm selling what seems to be an empty bottle for 10.95!
Complete instructions come are on the label, though not complicated: Item has to be washed and completely dry, then spray MothGuard solution in an even pattern on the item from 10-12 inches away, both front and back. Spray edges and seams slightly heavier. Allow item to dry naturally (no fans or heat). Do not fold, roll or store until completely dry. No need to double spray.
The 32oz size will cover approx 8'x10' area, or - 9 sweaters and costs $12.95. I have a few 22oz size left (not making that size anymore) at $10.95. The gallon size is $49.
The active ingredient in this proprietary formula is magnesium silicofluoride at .9%. From what the manufacturer told me, this simply makes the wool (or any protein fibers) "unpalatable" to moths.
*Wendy Dreyer, 7 Sept. 1998. Try using Zodiac's Flea-Trol Indoor Spray, available at pet stores. It is a pet product for flea treatment. The active ingredients are Permethrin, a reformulated Pyrethrin which is persistent, instead of breaking down as it dries, and PreCor@, an Insect Growth Regulator (IGR). The Precor is the key. The IGR prevents the eggs and larvae from maturing, the Permethrin kills the adults. Unfortunately it does not penetrate the cocoons, so you have to respray in about 10 days to get the emerging adults and anything you may have missed the first time around. PreCor is not specific to fleas, it is a general IGR (or so I understand), so this should work. I have used the Zodiac products for years, with many dogs and cats in the house (currently 6 Australian Shepherds), and have had NO FLEAS, with this product. The only time we had fleas briefly were the two times I tried similar products by other manufacturers, in August, a true test! They were not as effective. Two light sprays 10 days apart should be all you need. The label says it's good for 210 days. Be careful though! They also make second version that has some kind of moisturizer in it that should be avoided for felt! If using the longer-lasting Permethrin puts you off, get the Fleatrol for Dogs and Cats. It also contains the IGR, but the insecticide is Pyrethrin, which is a non-persistent organic insecticide from a Marigold, and breaks down into water and carbon dioxide as it dries.
A lot of insecticides available don't include IGR's for various reasons. We don't want people treating their gardens with it and eliminating the good with the bad. Also, I have asked exterminators (termite and carpenter ant) why they don't use IGR products. They hem and haw and don't make eye contact. They don't have an answer. I suspect it is because it would do TOO GOOD of a job, and they might reduce their business. Just my opinion! The last exterminator we had here hadn't even heard of IGR's !!!! (Really? and they are experts? Hmmmm)
Ruth Walker, 1 Feb. 2001. I would like to recommend again the product that used to be sold by Prochemical and Dye called Mothproof FF. I believe you can get it from Hillcreek Fiber Studio (573-874-2233). However, it is a product that is applied in very hot water. If you do acid dyeing, those conditions are perfect. (It is a mystery to me why dye houses don't just include the mothproofing in their dyebaths routinely.) I have been using this agent for many years and have not had problems in any of the wool that I have mothproofed. (Incidentally, this is one of the reasons I don't usually buy already dyed wool. I might as well dye it myself, and include the mothproofing in the dyebath.)
*Jane Altobelli, 2 Feb. 2001. I have some of that chemical and haven't used it yet because the person I bought it from (Liz Ballanger of EHB Designs in Toronto) said that if you use it in the dye bath it reduces the amount of dye the fibre takes in. To get your full dye, dye the fibre first and then put in the Mitin FF. As I haven't tried this yet, I cannot say if it is true or not. Liz is a chemist and sells weak acid and Procion dyes.
*Ruth Walker, 2 Feb. 2001. Lyn, I had never heard this, so I can only tell you of my experiences. I normally dye to saturation, using Sabraset (old names Lanaset, Telana) or WashFast Acid Dyes. Most of the dyes I use at 4% OWG, which is quite high. (There are a few notable exceptions to this.) However, since the bath does exhaust, and the color stays in the wool even after several rinses (and during felting), I have to say I'm pretty happy with the results. However, I am glad to know that this is a factor in dyeing, that I can consider when or if I do have problems with uptake.
*Candy Hoeschen, 2 Feb. 2001. Ruth, Have you noticed any difference in the hand of wool dyed with and without the mothproofing ? I would be concerned that the mothproofing is a residual surface chemical that may be irritating to sensitive skin for felt or handspun articles which touch the skin. Any detail information about these aspects ?
*Ruth Walker, 2 Feb. 2001. Candy, I don't even know it's there. However, it's been so long since I dyed anything without it (and that was pure Romney and now I use a fine MerinoXRomney) that I don't know what it felt like. To tell you the truth, if I didn't know I was spending money on it, and had it as a "check-off" item in my dyeing directions, I wouldn't know it was there. Sometimes I've wondered if it's akin to the Emperor's New Clothes. Except... yarns and wool and garments given to me that are
not mothproofed do get chewed up at my house, sad to say, and none of the wool I have mothproofed has ever had any evidence of insect damage. Ever. (But I have to say that none of my customers has ever told me about moth damage, so I don't know absolutely definitively, just in case I get called in front of a Grand Jury.)
I would worry about it as much as I would a dye in terms of worrying about it as an irritant, which is not at all. Think of it, by the time you are done wet felting something, hasn't it been washed numerous times, and isn't the thing you have to worry about in terms of irritation much more related to getting all the soap or detergent out? Or even what type of wool you are using? (I did use a mothproofing agent in the U.K. that smelled as though it were insecticide, but this FF--which does not claim to be an insecticide, just a moth- and carpet beetle-proofing agent--doesn't seem to have an odor.) The package claims that the agent has no OSHA-defined harmful agents in it (which doesn't actually mean that OSHA has tested every possible chemical). I do wear a dust mask and gloves when I am measuring out the powder; just good lab technique. I recommend it. It has worked very well for me.
*Bunny, 12 Oct 2004. Can someone please direct me to a website where I can purchase the mothproofing powder/solution to add to the rinse water when preparing wool for felt projects?
*Ruth Walker, June, 2004. This is a chemical used in the dye bath. I get it from http://www.hillcreekfiberstudio.com (I think that's the link) or call them at 573-874-2233. On the web site it is listed under "natural dyes." No secret! Easy to use with acid dyes. One teaspoon of dry powder is sufficient to mothproof a half-pound of wool.
After the mothproofing agent dissolves I add the acid, then the dyestock. (It [the mothproofing agent] does not dissolve easily if the acid is in the water, I've found, but does not precipitate out when the acid is added.)
*Nancy Talley, 27 Oct, 2005. I can't believe I have to ask this question. You have been so great responding to my moth question. Someone mentioned a Fuller Brush product. I've checked my mail, my deleted mail etc. I cannot for the life of me find the product name. Would the person that responded with the Fuller Brush product PLEASE send this again.
*Anna Salvesen, 26 Feb, 2005. Fuller Brush Co. makes an insect protection spray for textiles. http://www.fuller.com/products_detail.asp?cat=1&subcat=10&id=727&pg=1
I am reluctant to use many pesticides in the house because I have a young child, but I do use the Fuller Brush spray on the back of wool area rugs and wool wall hangings and I am now thinking about using it on a few other non-wearable items that sit undisturbed for stretches of time.
For crawling insects (primarily ants here as So Cal is one giant ant nest with human houses on it! ), but I think it might help with crawling carpet beetles, too), I use a pyrethrin based household insect spray around the perimeter of the house exterior several times a year, with particular attention around windows, doors, the garage door perimeter, vents and the base of the exterior walls. When I do this regularly, it keeps the ants out, and is easy to apply and inexpensive. It is a large container you hold with one hand with a tube attached to a continuous stream pump sprayer that you use with the other hand, excellent for areas you cannot reach with an ordinary spray bottle. It is labeled for indoor use, but I have not used it indoors yet, except in the garage.
*Kim Miller, 27 Feb. 2005. From what I understand below, you only spray the insect protector solution on the back side of the rugs?
*Anna Salvesen, 27 Feb. 2005. Yes, because that's the side that is mostly likely to harbor pests.
The top side is exposed to light, foot traffic, the vacuum cleaner, air currents, etc., all things they avoid. Any damage I have ever found was on the underside, never on the top. If the wool rug (or just a corner) was under a large heavy piece of furniture & you couldn't easily reach with the vacuum then spraying the top side would probably be a good idea, too, especially if the covered area is also dark. Check for color fastness first.
You probably wouldn't need to spray a smaller wool area rug that is shaken out or turned over and vacuumed on the back occasionally. Remember, they like dark, still, undisturbed areas. I remember reading (perhaps in Spin Off magazine?) about someone's fiber pest problem and after looking everywhere with no luck, finally found the culprits breeding right under her nose in the fibrous lint that collected in an overlooked and hard to reach nook of her huge floor loom.
Even in dresser drawers, you can open and get into them daily, but those back two corners stay quite dim and still. And carpet beetle larvae consume just about any lint, even cotton and linen. So it is a good idea to remove everything and vacuum out the drawer a few times a year. Of course, do as I say, not as I do :-). I am not as good as I should be at this so I have stopped using a dresser for sweaters , scarves, and other wool items and place them folded on open metal shelving, even in the summer (washed at the end of the season, then I shake them out and refold them about once a month or so while I watch some TV). I haven't found damage since I began doing this. And if you did find a problem it would be smaller than if you left it undisturbed for half a year or more.
*Anna Salvesen, 27 Feb. 2005. Here's one of many websites I found with information on identifying fabric pests, their life cycles, and how to deal with infestations. It is a pesticide company's website, but I have no affiliation with it, nor do I endorse the products. I just thought it was informative on the insects and non-pesticide preventive measures. http://www.epestsupply.com/moths.htm
Back to Index
MAKING YOUR OWN MOTHPROOFING AGENT
*Lili at FiberNews, 3 June, 1998. I have free directions for making moth repellent bags at: http://members.aol.com/NewJardin/index.html Denise at FOREVER IN BLOOM donated it to y'all..
*Tricia Rasku June 4, 1998. For those who went to the page, as I did, wormwood (artemisia) has another property that may conflict with your garden goals. It is very invasive--and a tough, tough plant. I have it in my yard and it is not much of a problem. The birds love it and I like the scent and just cut it back if it gets too sure of
itself. I have much worse problems.
*Dana Sheppard, 29 Jan, 2001. I have a book on aromatherapy and essential oils - it recommends using several drops of either lavendar, lemongrass, camphor, rosemary, or citronella essential oil on cotton balls or cotton cloth and leaving it in the closet or drawers with your clothes. It also notes that flies and moths particularly dislike lavendar and citrus oils. I haven't tried any of these, but I have used citronella as part of a homemade horse-fly spray for my daughter's mare, and it has worked very well - so I know that citronella at least is effective as a repellent. Wasn't it lavendar that was used in Victorian times in linen drawers - maybe to keep moths away, as well as for its scent?
*Emily Callaway, 25 Aug 2002. There is a wonderful book in existence called "A Weaver's Garden". Not only does it cover the use and cultivation of dye plants and fiber plants, but it also has an extensive section on natural mothproofing and care of fine linen/woolen goods. The book was written by Rita Buchanan. I don't have very much experience with wool and moths, but for those interested in a natural alternative for mothproofing, this may provide some avenues of exploration. Does anyone on the list have experience with botanical mothproofing? I'd be very interested in first-hand experiences or other resources.
*Julie Busselton, 28 Aug 2002. I have never had any problem with moths attacking my wools or my stored felt. I use a combination of cloves with Southernwood in my cupboards. I make up a few sachets and put them indiscriminately around amongst the fibres and garments. I guess because there is always some of it around in the house, the moths don't seem to come in. The silverfish are also kept away from the inside of the house because of it. You can also buy it mixed and set in waxen blocks here in Australia.
*Annette, 6 Sept, 2002. Is southernwood an aromatic wood? I have never heard of it.
*Zenda, 6 Sept, 2002. Southernwood is an herb.
*Lynne Holtrust, 7 Sept. 2002. Here is a mothproofing recipe from my book...'Herbs For the Home' by Jekka McVicar quote: "Moth Repellent ...Wormwood or Southernwood can be used for keeping moths and other harmful insects away from clothes. The smell is sharp and refreshing and does not cling to your clothes like camphor mothballs."
Bug Ban Recipe
2 tablespoons dried wormwood or southernwood (Southernwood....Artemisia abrotanum...also Wormwood....Artemesia absinthium)
2 tablespoons dried lavender
2 tablespoons dried mint
Mix ingredients well and put into small sachets. *It really does smell nice....I am able to grow most of these plants in my garden (zone 4)...definitely NOT tropical....with the exception of rosemary. Any of the spices are easily found at the grocer.
*Julie Earl, 7 Sept, 2002. You can also add the dried whole cloves to the mix, works wonders.
*Lynne Holtrust, 7 Sept. 2002. Here is another recipe. These are from an article in Country Living Gardener magazine, (1995) by Irene Rawlings.
Cedar Moth Chaser
- -1 cup cedar shavings (it is inexpensive to buy this in a pet supply store)
- -1/4 cup each...southernwood, peppermint, lemon verbena, thyme and rosemary
- -1/8 cup each whole cloves, lemon peel, and black peppercorns
Tangy Moth Repellent
Mix equal parts of camphor, basil, lavender and rosemary
Mint Moth Deterrent
2 cups each dried spearmint, dried peppermint and dried rosemary
1 cup dried thyme
1/2 cup ground cloves
French Moth Repellent
2 parts lavender
2 parts southernwood
1 part rosemary
1 part pennyroyal
1 part wormwood
add 1 tablespoon ground cloves to each 2 cups of dried herbs and mix well
*Helen Swartz, 7 Sept. 2002. Thanks so much for the recipe for keeping out moths. I have wormwood in about three varieties out of my back door. I also have four varieties of mint. The only thing I don't have is the lavendar to mix in. I have been using the wormwood alone and my son says it '"stinks". I don't think it does myself and compared to moth balls, there is no comparison. I hang it in the gargage, the basement and in my closets. It dries on its own but I think adding the mint will help and I am going to gather both and mix them and hang them together. I don't have any lavendar. I would never have thought of adding the mint.
*Ann McElroy, 12 Oct. 2004. There are a number of oils that are supposed to moth proof. The 2 I find least offensive are lavender and orange. I personally hate the smell of lavender but when you add the orange it becomes quite nice. It sweetens it up somehow. I can't stand the smell of mothballs or cedar. Cedar just makes you smell like a giant hamster, IMO. No offence to those that love the afore mentioned scents. I think that is the biggest challenge finding something that no one dislikes. There is someone that has a wool wash in several scents But I can't remember who. Sorry.
PREVENTING PEST DAMAGE TO WOOL
*Debbie Nelson, 4 July 1999. I just saw a helpful hints page in a cookbook that said to put whole cloves in the pockets of woolen jackets or in the bag with sweaters to keep away moths. Has anyone ever tried this? Does it work?
*Wheat Carr, 4 July 1999. Yes it works about as well as lavender and the men in my life find it less objectionable to have this "spice" scent clinging to them rather than
*J Urevig, 5 July 1999. Yes, Debbie, Cloves, Lavender, Cedar oil on a cotton ball, Bay Leaf, are all very good moth deterrents. I use Bay Leaves when storing my wool blankets and comforters.
*Dawn Nicholson, 23 Oct. 2001. Bosisto's Eucalyptus Spray, Australian Eucalyptus Oil is what I use, sprayed regularly in each room, also in boxes/bags of wool/woollen cloths. Another hint is to place bars of soap - new/used with/without perfume, made from goats milk or whatever. I place the soap in small open containers throughout the house in the hope the moths are deterred.
*Anna Salvesen, Feb. 27, 2005. A Google search ( cedar moth university were my keywords, trying to avoid sales pitches) yielded lots of information regarding the efficacy of cedar chests for stored fabrics. Here are some of the better sites that came up: This is an excellent site and I would encourage everyone to read the whole page: http://www.ipm.ucdavis.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7435.html
A small excerpt:
Protecting Items in Storage
Clothes moths often damage articles that are not stored properly. When storing susceptible items, be sure they are pest-free and clean, and place them in an airtight container. Insect repellents can be placed in the storage container. A new product made from lavender oil is available as a gel-filled sachet that can be used inside drawers and storage boxes, or hung in closets. Research studies are currently underway regarding the efficacy of this product.
Moth balls, flakes, or crystals containing naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene are also available for protecting clothes in storage. These materials are toxic and must be kept away from children and pets. They also leave an unpleasant odor on clothes and other cloth objects. If placed in contact with plastic buttons, hangers, or garment bags, they may cause the plastic to soften and melt into the fabric. As these chemicals evaporate, they produce vapors that, in sufficient concentration, will slowly kill insects. The vapors build up to the required concentration only in an airtight container. If the container is not airtight, the chemicals only weakly repel adults and any larvae already on clothes continue to feed.
Questions are often raised as to the effectiveness of cedar chests and closet floors made of cedar. Aromatic eastern red cedar, Juniperus virginiana, contains an oil that is able to kill small larvae, but it does not affect large larvae. After several years, however, cedar loses this quality. Having the chest tightly constructed is more important in the long run than the type of wood used to make it.
This is another excellent site with some specific eradication techniques including directions for dry ice fumigation and heating.
A small excerpt:
... Contrary to popular belief, cedar closets or chests are seldom effective by themselves, because the seal is insufficient to maintain a lethal or repellent concentration of the volatile oil of cedar. ...
A small excerpt:
Control of dermestid beetles and clothes moths usually centers around prevention practices. Closets that are cleaned occasionally are less likely to be damaged. Clean fabrics should be stored in tightly sealed containers with paradichlorobenzene moth crystals. (Dry cleaning destroys all stages of these pests.) Chests and closets made of cedar repel fabric pests, but cedar loses its repellency over time. Cedar chests are not air tight. It is possible that fabric can still be damaged in a cedar chest. Mothproofing should be considered to protect expensive fabrics like oriental rugs.
There are lots more sites, but the message is the same: listen to your mother and clean up your act (me, too!). If you use a cedar chest, be sure it is tight, check it often, and only store clean items. So I'm back to housework for the wool things around the house. And regularly going through my stash and playing with it (that part is great!).
Pesticides are effective, but like many people, I prefer to minimize their use or at least be very selective where and how I use them, especially indoors. For those with bigger investments and risks to their inventory, house construction issues, etc., pesticides are worth considering. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if homeowners are often worse about overusing and misusing pesticides than the pros, so perhaps hiring a pro is the best way to use pesticides.
*Kim Markegard, Oct. 24, 2005. Hi all. I'm concerned with protecting my fiber and felt pieces from moths. I presume both my processed fiber (wool rovings, alpaca, etc.) as well as my felt are susceptible to moth damage. True? If so, what can I do to protect everything. I'm just starting out, but I can envision many shelves of fiber and felt that will need some method of protections. I'd love to hear what others do.
*Anna Salvesen, Oct. 24. 2005. I'm traveling so don't have access to my email records when this was discussed at length last year, but here's what I suggest for accurate information regarding textile pests (more than clothing moths). Do an online (google) search of entomology websites, particularly at university research departments. You will find a wealth of well-researched information on the two variations of clothing moths, carpet beetles, and other textile pests, their lifecycles and preferred environment conditions, as well as accurate information on how to prevent and manage infestations.
I suggest university entomology sites because, while they often list highly toxic chemical solutions for managing infestations, they often also describe minimally toxic or non-toxic methods of preventing infestations, based on scientific research, not old wives' tales. The internet abounds with lots of amateur advice about textile pests, but much of it is inaccurate and/or incomplete. Sorry, but no amount of essential oils will get rid of pests. Most people don't use cedar to its best advantage, either. The aromatic methods work best as a preventive measure with clean fiber and an airtight enclosure. At best, they confuse the scent receptors of the adult pests. They do nothing for existing eggs infestations. Any time you create an airtight enclosure, be sure that moisture will not be trapped inside or you will create mildew (not nice, either). Desiccant sachets can help.
Freezing fiber to kill any eggs is a good measure is you have the freezer space and a cold enough setting (around 0 F or colder, I think).
Your solutions will vary depending on whether you have to manage an active infestation or prevent a future one. The best prevention method is storing only clean fiber (the pests are after the soil, food, dander, perspiration, and other protein contaminants on the fiber, not really the fiber itself. They like dark, undisturbed places, so get your fiber out and play often with it :-). If you have items hanging or laying on surfaces, shake and disturb them now and then, because pests (carpet beetle larvae in particular) can damage display items on the back or underneath side right in front of you if left undisturbed long enough.
Be sure to seek information on carpet beetle larvae (carpet beetles come inside on garden flowers, from old bird and wasp nests in the eaves of porches and roofs, etc. They will eat any kind of protein, not just wool, and can infest the dark recesses of the kitchen pantry and cabinets, drawers, etc., making them extremely difficult to eradicate. In my opinion, they can be a bigger problem than clothing moths in many places. If you find little brown fuzzy shed skins in the back corners of drawers, etc., you have them. Clothing moths are not good fliers and they do not fly toward the lights (they are looking either to mate or to lay eggs in a dark, undisturbed location with a food source for their offspring). It is unlikely you would ever see them. Again, it is the larvae, not the adult moth that does the fiber damage.
Well, that's all I have off the top of my head. Good luck in your research.
GETTING RID OF THE MOTHS ONCE THEY'RE THERE.
*Suzan, 31 May, 1998. Eight years ago our town was overcome with moths. I came home from a trip to find my whole house fluttering and rugs and clothes eaten. It was wild. I have things from all over the world. I was desperate. After much research I was put in touch with the costume department at the University of California at Berkley. They archive thousands of costumes. Their solution: the same stuff as in RAID Fumigator sold in the US in blue boxes in the grocery store. It has an ingredient that no other bomb or commercial solution has, or that your local bug control company will have. It completely changes chemistry and dissipates in 4 hours, so no toxic
residue on your pillows or floors. And because it's a true cloud, (it will set off the smoke alarm) it goes where no other bomb can go. It is completely safe on silk, wool, and anything else delicate.
After eight years and one interstate move (where we bombed the house *and* moving van), I still find a moths and have to repeat this process twice a year. They are cunning little critters with strong survival skills.
Moths in the wild eat feathers (pillows), dust (even the dust inside a computer), anywhere dust mites live (everywhere in a house), small insect bodies (some microscopic), sweat and saliva from animals and whatever it falls on or is absorbed by (neck bands, the spill area on the front of clothes, arm pits, waist bands, crotches, anything your hands touch after eating), seeds, seed pods (crackers and bread), dust from plants, dried leaves and flowers (potpourri), hair, skin flakes, etc. Sounds horrible but they actually do a wonderful thing in the environment by eating all this stuff.
The two most popular in home destruction are:
The one that is long, dark and lays its wings flat against it's body eats grain (a true menace in the kitchen) and will eat food or crumbs on clothes or hangings (left here from snacks or brushed off your clothes while weaving) **and what that food is on**. It's sometimes called the Indian Meal Moth. But it will eat fibers.
The little triangular fluttery ones that fly in a random pattern and hide from light (so you never see them) can eat through rugs and such. They even eat some synthetic fibers. These moth larva become the color of the material they are eating, so they can live in a bird's nest and pupate right before the bird's eyes, or hide on a red sweater, becoming dead still if there is any movement at all, and you could wear the sweater and never see them. (Yuck.)
Sheep (and goats etc.) used to be dipped in a solution that penetrated the fiber, so all wool was immune from moths for years. Not so now. The solution has been banned in all countries in the past several years and we should start seeing a resurgence of moths in homes. It was also used on cows so leather of all things was immune from moths, too. This was bad stuff.
Moths and their eggs die at 103 to 106 degrees F. Storing sweaters in the attic during the summer used to do the job. I put precious things like wall hangings, needlepoint, hand knits, etc. in the car and leave them there for a week of hot days every summer because the RAID Fumigator doesn't always get all the moths. Don't pile them too high though, the heat needs to really penetrate. I know that freezing over several weeks also works but don't know the time or degree needed. I tried it once and it didn't work.
Yes, I use the RAID Fumigator, and I am an organic food nut with a horror of pesticides, but this one, after much research, looks to be quite safe after the four hour interval. It also kills ants and flies and dust mites.
*Ruth Walker, 1 June, 1998. I appreciate your moth battle accounts, but it sounds like the Raid still doesn't quite get rid of the moths.
When storing things away for a long time, I make sure they are clean by inspecting them carefully, airing them outside in the sun (moths don't like light and exposure), and bagging them in paper bags double folded at the top and stapled. So far this seems to be working. (And if I did bag up some mothy stuff, at least it would be isolated inside that bag and not contaminate the other things.) Apparently, moths don't chew through paper bags, although after reading Susan's report I'm not sure I can trust that
Sadly, there was once a product available in the U.S. that did allow you to just soak your stuff overnight, so big things could be done in the bathtub, but that's been out of circulation for many years.
Museums will freeze their items pretty hard for a couple of days, warm them up thoroughly, and then freeze them again. I think their freezers are colder than the ones we would have in our kitchens, but if you have a chest freezer this might do the job
*Suzan, 1 June, 1998. The RAID works, I just haven't done all you do! It was my whole house and business. They got into the darndest things in the smallest places. The larva can "hibernate" for years and then grow again. I'm probably dealing with those that fell to the bottom of some crevice inside a boot inside a box.
About freezing. Yes, it's in a **very** cold freezer, and it has to be at precise times in the larva development. I tried it and it didn't work. I used the freezer at the local store, a very cold one at that. Anyone know the formula? Thanks for the information on the paper bags. I sure hope they don't learn to eat through them, too!
*Janice, 11 Oct, 1999. I've got moths in my wool - what do I do?
*Jane Altobelli, 11 Oct. 1999. Janice: Nothing scares me more. Brace yourself. First, wherever you are storing your wool - and I mean everything that is wool - take it outside, if you can and open everything up. Shake, expose to air and sun. Leave the stuff and go back to where you store your wool(lens). Clean every surface - if it is in a closet and upstairs. If it is in the basement (where I store my fleece and roving), sweep out. Then start spraying. I use an insecticide that is made for crawling and flying insects (it will probably say moths on the can). I spray the surface of all the laundry bags in which I store my fleece. Spray the ground. This is war. You will probably find one source (if you are lucky) of infestation. Throw this out, but first wrap it up securely in two plastic bags, firmly closed. When you are satisfied that you have located your moth source and any other locations, bag everything back up, spray the openings of bags and seal the bags and put everything back. One of the best ways to keep ahead of this game (besides vigilance) is washing your fleece before you store it.
Back to Index
FREEZING THE MOTHS/PESTS. (ALSO MICROWAVING
*Candy Hoeschen, 3 Sept. 1998. Colleen Wilson and Kjerstin Mackey are Textile Conservation experts at the Royal British Columbia Museum, and shared many tips on fabric and fiber care at the "Straits & Strands" conference in June, 1997 in Victoria BC. This is their freezing procedure for moths and carpet beetles:
1. Artifacts should be placed in a polyethylene bag and as much air as possible evacuated from the bag and then the bag should be sealed with a twist tie, etc.
2. Keep artifact at room temperature before you put them in the freezer.
3. Put the artifact in a freezer of minus 20 degrees C or colder. Household chest freezers achieve this temperature.
4. Keep the artifact in the freezer at minus 20 degrees C for at least 48 hours.
5. Remove artifact from the freezer after 48 hours and keep the artifact in the polyethylene bag for at least four hours.
6. After 4 hours remove the artifact from the polyethylene bag and clean up any remains of insects with a soft brush and a vacuum cleaner.
They stressed that the rapid drop from room temperature to -20C is the key to killing the critters - a slow temperature change gives them the chance to go into hibernation. So don't stuff many items tightly into the bags - make sure the cold can penetrate quickly.
*Ruth Walker, 17 Nov. 2002. Here is some information I received on the RugWeavers' listserv some time ago. A reference is made to the Textile Museum, and I do think they would have the latest word on the appropriate way to go:
Subject: Re: Rugtalk:moth proofing - some corrections
From: "R. John or Jo Ann Howe" <email@example.com>
Date: Fri, 7 Jun 2002 08:26:53 -0400
Dear folks -
A couple of things about the exchange below. For very large carpets some folks are able to rent space in the lockers of wholesale meat facilities. It's not as frequent as it used to be but in the Mid-West you could rent a sizable locker that would hold a "side" of beef. This will take a room-size rug.
Mr.Hayden, seems to be working directly with freezing treatments to destroy moths and I can't question his experience but a couple of things he says here are different from my understanding.
First, he says that one of the freezers used reaches a temperature of 20 F. My understanding is that in order to kill moths in all stages, the freezer should reach a temperature of -4 F.
Second, he seems to think that freezers that are over-under or side-by-side models will be adequate. Again my understanding is that only chest freezers will reach and sustain the temperature required for killing moths in all stages.
I gave this link before but it might be good to review again what The Textile Museum has published about freezing. It is base on the best current research in this area. Here is the relevant portion copied into this post:
"Freezing: Freezing is an effective and safe method of eradicating an insect infestation. The infested textile should be rolled or folded, and then packaged in clean, clear 3-4 mil. weight polyethylene. Remove as much air as possible, and completely seal the package with duct tape (other tapes such as masking or packing tape do not hold their seal during the freezing process.). Removing the air in the package is an important step which eliminates the risk of condensation forming next to the textile.
Place the packaged textile in a chest freezer for a minimum of 48 hours; refrigerator freezers do not reach the necessary low temperatures of -2 to -4=B0F. It is imperative that the freezer not be opened at any time during this process in order to maintain a constant temperature.
After freezing, allow the textile to completely thaw before removing it from the package. Condensation will appear, but only on the outside of the package. Inspect the textile carefully, and if you don't feel certain everything has been killed, repeat the above procedure. Finally, carefully vacuum the textile to remove grass and insect debris before returning it to display or storage."
Here is the link from which this section was copied: http://www.textilemuseum.org/care/brochures/pestbusters-frm.htm Regards, R. John Howe
*Zia Gibson, 18 Nov. 2002. Hi everyone, A friend of mine has just returned from Central Asia and brought us a nice small shyrdak (felt appliqué rug) from Kyrgystan. I am thinking I will isolate it first from the rest of the rugs and felt until I am sure there are no moth problem. and I have a nice freezer to put in. It seems to me that someone on this list had some remarks about the sequencing of freezing...freeze for how long, take it out, wait for hatch, refreeze, etc. If that someone still has this information and would care to share I would be very appreciative.
*Joyce Jackson, 18 Nov. 2002. Microwave is better gets rid of moths, eggs and larva.
*Elizabeth McCabe, 18 Nov. 2002. How long in the microwave? I was wondering about an oven. How hot and how long? They use an oven to bake soil to get rid of everything so they can use it on their potted plants( It stinks a bunch) and not spread insects and disease. Would it affect the wool?
*Joyce Jackson, 18 Nov. 2002. depending on how much you put in at a time for 1 pound I set it at 30 sec on high.
GENERAL INFORMATION ON CLOTHES MOTHS AND OTHER PESTS
*Pat Spark, 3 Sept. 1998. Here are some possibilities for moth infestations:
1. Use an insect bomb (fog) to help kill the flying creatures. Or call an exterminator. I don't believe that this kills the eggs.
2. Freeze the pieces (try to find a freezer locker you can rent) for several days. This works for killing larva, but not eggs. The freezing makes them go dormant, then when they warm up they hatch so about 2 weeks after the first freezing, do them again. This will kill the larva that hatched out before they can become moths and lay more eggs.
3. Drown the larva by soaking the pieces in water for a day or so. This still doesn't kill the eggs, but a thorough vacuuming before the soaking will remove most of them.
4. Vacuum the pieces often that you have in storage, since this is a good way to remove the eggs.
5. Air the pieces often because moths hate sunlight.
6. Spray some sort of moth, bug killer on the shelves, cupboards, etc. (after vacuuming) to help keep away the critters.
*Tiiu Mayer, 12 Oct. 2004. The theory appeals but it seems that moth holes happen where food or drink has lodged in the fabric and attracts egg-laying moths. Also, moths don't like light and movement. I removed my closet doors years ago and have never had moth damage since. Woolens that are packed away in boxes are the ones that seem to suffer the most.
* Colors in Wool, 24 Oct. 2005. The info that the moth larva are not after the wool is incorrect according to the professor in charge of the Mohair research Sta. at Texas university.
A couple years back, I emailed and asked as the same info was going around the dyehappy list . The answer they gave was the moths larva live on the keratin that the wool is made of they are not after perfume or grease but the fiber itself . I was also told they have fleece there that is 30 years old and untouched as it is in a glass screw top jar ( not a practical way to store it for most of us ) but done to show a physical barrier is the best and safest way to protect wool.
*Anna Salvesen, 27 Feb. 2005. I guess we haven't cornered the market on pest problems. II found this info on a website about pianos (felt parts for the hammers, I think). If you have an old piano, go bang on it for a while :-).http://www.balaams-ass.com/piano/73-faq.htm
I am looking for recommendations on protecting the felt material in a piano from moth attack. I recently found a few moths which may have come in on some antique wool rugs which we purchased. I read somewhere that it is not recommended to use a standard moth spray which you can find at the hardware store to spray in the piano. What procedure and materials would you recommend? Howard Towlson
I moth proof when I open the piano to work on it. I take out the action, and then I spray the wood of the key bed on an upright or grand. Soak it pretty good with a spray like Raid in a petroleum carrier. Try to get one with no water carrier. Do not spray the hammers or action felt.
I do spray old upright hammers if they show moth damage already. The effect of the spray is not nearly as deadly as the moth larvae. I spray the lower cabinet on uprights in the wood areas. The spray will send fumes through the whole piano. Perfumed moth crystals are an option, but don't forget to do it again regularly since they dissolve into the air.
I am told that the damage to hammers and other piano felt is not always moths but carpet beetles which lay eggs in the felt which hatches later. Also, the common advice from the old timers is to play the piano a lot. This disturbs the moths which like to lay eggs in quiet places.
Back to Index
SHOULD I MOTHPROOF?
*Gwen Lowery, Oct. 8, 2003. I just finished a large wallhanging and am now concerned (or wondering if I should be concerned) about moths. What's the consensus about doing something vs not? and if something should be done to protect it, what would that be? Thanks for any help/suggestions/pointers.
*Ruth Walker, Oct. 8, 2003. Gwen, I mothproof my wool before I felt it, while I'm acid dyeing it, in fact. I use the Mitin FF mothproofing agent sold by http://www.hillcreekfiberstudio.com It is listed on their natural dye page, although it has nothing to do with natural dyes.
In museums, wool things are treated in freezers to -20 degrees, and frozen more than once to kill emerging moths.
Clean it frequently, take it out in the sun and brush it off any possible larvae.
If you do decide to use the agent mentioned above you could put it into whatever large vessel would hold it (including a cattle tank, if that's how big it is), and heat as required to just under simmer with an electric cattle tank heater. If your washing machine is big enough you could use the cattle tank heater in there. The agent also requires a bit of acid, and the amount of acid is dependent upon the dry weight of fiber, not of the volume of water.
Back to Index
WHAT IS A CLOTHES MOTH? WHEN IS A CARPET BEETLE THE
*Leah, 10 Oct. 2001. I have seen three or four moths flying around in my bedroom the last couple of days. I keep all my yarn in a bin in my bedroom. I keep the yarn bagged up but sometimes they get shoved around and left open. The question is, when I go searching through my stash to check it for
moths.....What am I looking for?? I am going to sift through it all and what looks clean I am going to bag up in Ziplocs.
*Orbweaver, 16 Oct. 2001. Generally what you are looking for are cocoons which are small thin paperish cylinders which may contain larvae. You also may find a fine brownish powder at the bottom of your bags of wool... this would be partially eaten wool and fecal material... getting rid of them is no small task either... clean wool
is less likely to attract moths in the first place ... they also rely on the area to be undisturbed.
*Nancy Talley, Feb. 25, 2005. I am wondering if we have moth problems......A friend gave me some llama fiber and i found holes in the fiber....I nuked some in microwave and froze the rest. This week, I saw a small moth flitting around my skirting table. My question is....with a huge amount of fiber here, what would you all suggest I do to get rid of moths.....and to prevent any future infestation. AND ..... how do I know a fiber moth from, say a grain moth?
*Anna Salvesen, Feb. 25, 2005. If you have fiber that has been infested (either before you acquired it or after) and you don't want to discard it, you need to soak and wash it well. A subsequent freezing wouldn't hurt, either.
Grain and pantry moths (1/2"+) are much larger than clothes moths (no larger than 1/4"). Also they do not shy away from light, as do clothes moths. It is unlikely you will see actual clothes moths unless you find some that have hatched and pupated inside a plastic bag or box. It is unusual to see them flying around because a) they don't like light and b) they don't fly well. Suspect your pantry or pet food if you see moths flying around your house, especially near your kitchen or garage. You can get sticky baits for pantry moths in the pesticide sections of places like Home Depot, Target, etc. Mostly I just use them to monitor activity in the pantry areas. They alert me quickly if I have bought something infested. Pet food (especially from pet stores with bird seed) are often infested and will develop bugs of various sorts. I store cat food in the garage in restaurant-supply airtight plastic bins away from foods.
At one time I spent nearly an entire night reading the Internet about fiber-destroying pests, mostly on university entomology research sites. Fascinating and myth-busting. There are two types of clothes moths. If I remember right, they are case making and web making (and they have different feeding habits) but both damage textiles. There is a hormone bait for one type but not the other, but I can't remember which one. The sticky bait traps are useful for monitoring moth activity in a particular room or closet area (to see if they are present), but I discovered the type that is attracted to the bait is not likely to live in my climate. Check with your local agricultural or county extension or university to see which lives in your area.
Worse than moths are carpet beetles because they eat more than wool (silk & other fibers, pantry items like spilled flour, crumbs, you name it). Many people do not make the connection between these pests and textile/fiber damage. They are found in dry cracks and crevices everywhere in homes (behind baseboards, in between wood floor planks, dresser drawer corners, kitchen cabinets, etc.). The adult is a little round beetle (not bigger than this O ), greyish, with a mottled back and they show up at a certain time of the year (but I can never remember when and always mean to make a note of it on the calendar). When the doors and windows are open (frequently in So. California) they will fly inside and cling to the walls about halfway up (I spy a speck on the wall) and I immediately kill any I see. They also breed in old birds nests, wasp nests, old leaves, etc. around your exterior roof eaves, and easily enter the house, so clean those things out often. The adult beetle causes no direct damage, but is looking for a dark, undisturbed place to lay eggs or is emerging after pupating.
The larvae of the carpet beetles (CBL) is what does the fiber damage, and boy , can they cause damage! They are small fuzzy brown larvae (a little like woolly bear catepillars, but less than 1/4" long). They are found in dark, undisturbed areas in the back of pantries, kitchen cabinets, any drawer, behind wall hangings, under mats, rugs, carpeting, etc. Most often the only evidence they leave (in addition to holes in your textiles) is the little brown fuzzy skins they shed. They seem to be able to eat through thin plastic bags and thin, plastic grocery bags are no protection at all. And they eat everything, food crumbs, textiles, fur, silk, wool, etc.
If you have ever found the fuzzy brown shed skins (or worse, a live one!) on the bottom of a rarely used container or corner of a drawer or stuck to an old wood cutting board (especially the back end of the kind that slides into a slot under the countertop), then be on the lookout and use every "good housekeeping" prevention method you can muster, i.e, rotate contents and clean storage areas (they like undisturbed areas), especially dark nooks & crannies, & corners; vacuum floor crevices well (if you can safely do it squirt borax or boric acid behind baseboards); shake out and air wall hangings, rugs, etc., frequently; freeze all fiber coming into your house before it goes in your stash; go through your stash regularly; keep a compact fluorescent bulb on in the closet & perhaps a small fan to ruffle the air; store only clean, protected stash and clothing items, etc.
What I learned on the university entomology research sites is that much of the "pleasant" , non-toxic moth and CBL (carpet beetle larvae) deterrents such as lavender, cedar, etc., are not particularly effective at deterring pests, especially if the fibers are not clean and are already infested or stored in dark, undisturbed areas that are infested. Nice scents and old tradition is nice, but I prefer scientific research. The chemicals that are effective at killing pests or making the fibers inedible to them are pretty toxic, especially to children and pets and they work best in enclosed spaces, containers, tight closets, etc. The most effective non-toxic measures are good housekeeping details (I know you don't want to hear this, I struggle with this, too. I'd rather do just about anything else) to make your things less appetizing (i.e. clean fibers before storing), make the environment inhospitable (light, bright, airy, & disturbed ... love that one! ), and reduce the opportunity for breeding to reduce the numbers looking for food (get rid of that old bird nest on the porch, use window screens (or fix them), etc
Confession time and the reason for my all-night research: I find CBL evidence in my house periodically, especially the kitchen, but also in dresser drawer corners, despite periodic emptying and vacuuming of drawers, etc. I think my old kitchen cabinets were hotels for CBL, despite concerted efforts to eradicate them. Even with regular kitchen cabinet purges & cleanouts, I would find shed skins whenever I brought out something rarely used, like the cookie cutter box, or a muffin tin, or the waffle maker, etc. I am nearly finished with some improvements in my house, including remodeling the kitchen, and I am hoping that my changes will reduce the breeding of carpet beetles (a bigger problem in So Cal than moths, it seems). For a long time I have put open packages of food in airtight bins and cannisters, but it wasn't enough. I got rid of the old cabinets with the hard-to-wipe shelves and replaced them with smooth, easy to wipe shelves. I replaced all the deep corner cabinets with better cabinet configurations to reduce the number of forgotten items at the back. Instead of shelves, I put rollout wire basket shelves to reduce hiding places and increase air circulation. I carved out a space for an upright freezer, more for new additions to my fiber stash than for food storage. Room by room we are removing carpet and replacing with smooth cork floors so that may help to reduce the population, too. Before we install new baseboards, I apply boric acid along wall/floor joints.
I store my wool sweaters on commercial steel wire shelves out in the open room and they stay free of damage when there. I wash everything after the winter (even if it wasn't worn) and I shake out and refold the garments several times in the off season to remove any dust and to "disturb" the area to discourage pests. I haven't had any damage since doing this that last several years.
I have yet to find any infestation in my stash. It isn't organized, but it is protected pretty well. I have my priorities :-). I freeze nearly all my stash acquisitions for a few days in my home freezer (about -20?/-30?) no matter whether it is from a friend or purchased to avoid bringing pests home and into my stash.
I generally store most of my fiber in the slider zip freezer bags. The large 2.5 gallon bags are available at Target and they are not freezer weight plastic. I leave a small gap in the zipper to let air escape or squeeze the air out and close tight. The bags are stored in thick clear plastic stacking Iris brand boxes (I buy them at Costco). I like these because they have locking clamps on the tops that seem to seal the boxes better than other styles & brands. The lids don't fall off easily and the edge of the box covers well to protect against moisture damage. They are not absolutely airtight, but they are better than the tops that self-click on without clamps. The clear plastic of the bags and the boxes lets in light at least on the outside so I can see what is inside. The bags have a write-on label area and the boxes are easy to label with my electronic label maker (and the plastic labels pull off and stick on another box easily, at least once or twice).
I know it is recommended that fiber be allowed to "breath", but as I know there are carpet beetles or larvae in my house I think it is more important to keep them out than for the wool to breath. I mostly buy clean, prepared fiber (I have enough laundry to do already :-). The few unwashed fibers & fleeces that I store for a while are in a zip bag inside another zip bag with the zippers on opposite ends, and are separated from my other stash items in their own box because dirty, greasy fiber is more attractive to pests than clean.
And because it is nice and can't hurt, I sometimes toss in a strong smelling bar of soap into the box just to confuse the nose of any pests sniffing around looking for lunch. But frankly, I don't think the scientific evidence gives much credence to the herbs and cedar prevention methods. They are nice for us, but I don't think will deter a determined bug who has access, motive, and means (I'm watching too much CSI :-).
So far, so good for my stash. The only CBL *damage* I have ever found in my house, despite ample evidence that I can't eradicate CB in my house without gassing it, is on things that I have left unprotected and neglected too long in the house, like my souvenir Icelandic felt mats that I forgot in the back of the buffet cabinet; wool suits (from my former life & career) hanging too long, unused in a closet; etc. Once I left a cashmere sweater at the bottom of a laundry for a few weeks, waiting for a few more handwash items to accumulate to justify a washer-load of water. I discovered one *live* carpet beetle larvae munching on my sweater and it had already made several holes, in fact I could see it basically ate in a straight line through the layers when I lined all the holes up. That sucker died died full and quickly!
It is too soon to see if the remodeling efforts will have much effect on the resident carpet beetles, but I am hopeful I can reduce them. If nothing else, it will simplify the housekeeping efforts. But the stash protection continues.
Back to Index
*Nicole Chazaud, Feb. 27, 2005. Nancy, my suggestion to you is to capture one of those moths and send it off to a pest control company. Orkin determined what I am dealing with at no cost. What am I dealing with you say?... Periodically I have found evidence of some kind of bug eating my felt. I know it isn't wool moths because the tiny bored holes are too small and clean (no web casing around the holes) I finally decided it was too dangerous of a risk to have my thousands of dollars of finished product (furniture, rugs and wall hangings) to not look into this more. I have never found them in unused fiber only finished felt that happened to be sitting around, on shelves or the floor. I also never keep dirty fiber in the studio. It comes in clean washed and all in plastic bags. I contacted Orkin, and sent them bored samples. They had their labs check it out and was determined we are dealing with Warehouse Beetles in my case, Carpet Beetles. Apparently warehouse beetles can get into things like boxes, places where things are stored, piled up, etc. And the kind I have apparently doesn't "fly" they crawl. It doesn't seem to be an "infestation", and I have never seen the large beetle as Anna described, but have found the TINY fuzzy "shells" and mine are even much small than a 16th of an inch. The exterminator came in and checked not only my studio but also my house. Both will be chemically treated over a period of a year maybe even beyond. For a year the cost will be around $1,000.00, they come in first then a month later ($400), then once every other month($100) for the following year, and encourage that to continue indefinitely. They spray chemicals into all cracks, floor to walls, wall to ceiling in the case of my post and beam barn, they dust in my basement of my house, around plumbing fixture holes, around window casings...everywhere. and they do this each time they come. I figure this is a good insurance policy as I have such large pieces waiting to sell in the studio, I'd hate to get a hole right in the middle of my $5,000 dollar sofa or pass these suckers onto an unsuspecting customer.. This indeed sucks, I have been in fear of moths, and never thought of this little beetle. We live in New Hampshire (US) and the house and barn we live in work in is from 1830 so who knows what lurks in all thos cracks and crevices! UGGH! Good luck, hopefully your moths are nothing. But in my experience with moths if you do find something infested throw it out! Don't try to freeze, wash or anything else.
Back to Index
Page Updated: 01/15/2006