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Moth Damage

Posted on 13 November 2013

Hand made rugs can survive centuries of being walked on, but in a matter of weeks a moth infestation can ruin a rug. For rug owners and cleaners, the household moth poses a real problem, and with the threat of damage and even cross-contamination it is an issue that needs resolving.

Perhaps surprisingly, it is not the moth that causes the problem but the moth larvae. Adult moths have no interest in eating wool, but females do like to lay their eggs in it, often hundreds at a time. The moth larvae will eat wool, silk, hair or just about any other fibres they can get their little teeth in to. The adult moths are very small, often only 1cm in size and are a brown or silvery colour.

What to Check For;
Rugs that are most at risk of moth infestation are those which have been in storage for a long time or are under large items of furniture that are not moved often. The most obvious sign of moth infestation is bare patches, often only in one colour. Different colour wool will taste different, and the moths will have a favourite that they will feed on first. Also look for small moths flying about, or if you get up really close to the rug you might see eggs. Eggs can be very difficult to spot and usually look like a powder or dust, or if you see small particles that look a little like sand, this could be the excretion from the larvae.

Moth larvae can be active anywhere between two and thirty months, and is by far the longest life-stage of the moth. They look like thin maggots, and can be very tiny. After this stage, they form a cocoon, which can be the same colour as the wool of the rug and lasts for approximately a week before the adult moth emerges.

Prevention;
As with many things, prevention is the best way forward. To minimise the risk of a moth infestation take the rug out of storage and give it a good vacuum on both sides once a month. If the rug is under furniture, vacuum what you can including the back once a week. Female moths like to lay their eggs in the back of rugs because that is usually the most undisturbed area, so it is important to vacuum there too.

If you’re too Late;
If you discover a moth problem in your rug, the first thing to do is to thoroughly vacuum it on both sides, then give us a call! It is advisable that you don’t try to use any household cleaning products or insecticides as this could damage the material of the rug further. Often the full extent of the damage can only be seen after the rug is extensively cleaned, but sections of damage can be rewoven.

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