Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mothra Attacks!

A word to strike fear in the heart of any knitter: moths.

In short, if you see this guy, panic.

Since the spring weather has finally arrived, I decided to dig around in the bottom of my closet to get out some of my summer shirts, and put away some of our heavier sweaters.

I was moving things around, and spotted a little flying thing. A little flying thing that looked suspiciously like the one above...

And then one of its friends appeared.

And I knew. We had moths. Oddly, for a wool-obsessed knitter, they're not in my stash, but in our bedroom closet. We pulled everything out of the closet, took two giant armfuls to the dry cleaners, and threw everything else in the laundry.

While this was going on, I did a bit of research, thanks to Wikipedia and University of Kentucky Entomology department. Moths are scary for a number of reasons: they eat your clothes and particularly your wool, but they can also be quite difficult to get rid of without nasty chemicals. (If it was still winter, I could have just left everything outside - freezing works well.) We vacuumed the entire closet, all surfaces, and we did use an insecticide spray.

This would have been easier if it had hit my stash, since it's easier to package things up for freezing - or indeed cooking, as 45 mins at 120 degrees F also works - but it's a little harder with actual clothes.

We've got cedar strips in the closet now, will put in traps and will continue to monitor closely.

Now I'm just looking for someone with an ironing fetish to help me with the 50+ items waiting to go back into the closet...


Sheherazade said...

Oooo, I'm so sorry to hear about the moths. Unfortunately this is a side effect of having birds. We had a cockatoo and budgies and found out that the moths eggs can be found in bird seed. We were advised to keep the seed in the freezer or at least freeze it for a week or longer before opening.

Take heart, though, we got rid of ours without the use of harmful chemicals. It took a lot of patience, reorganiziation and determination but we did it.

The telltale sign of moth larvae in foods (cereals, flour and nuts are really susceptible) is a slight clumping together or a web-like stickiness. Once you know what to look for they are easier to get rid of.

I hope this helps and good luck.

coop said...

I have actual nightmares about finding moths in my stash! I hope they haven't done any damage to your clothes

Marie-Christine said...

The freezing myth was debunked at least 20 years ago, in museum studies conducted by Judith McKenzie. Freezing merely selects for freeze-resistant moths. And cedar smells lovely but doesn't really repel anything.
Containment is essential, and washing is good.