Friday, January 11, 2013

Wool Moths, Stash Busting.

 Two great tastes that go great together...?
Photo -

I'd rather not ponder the way that wool moths taste, but being a wool lover teaches you entirely too much about their life cycle. Not to mention quite a bit about their taste (I swear, it's always the expensive stuff!) I've had moth problems around the house for a bit now, the biggest issue being my messy tendencies and the random dirty wool sock hiding behind furniture etc. I've been working to control them, and recently cleaned and organized the craft closet as part of the drive. Here's what I've learned.

1.) Keep it clean.
Wool moths aren't actually after the fiber, they are interested in eating sweat, skin particles and dirt off the wool. The fiber is just collateral damage. Be sure you wash sweaters, hand-knits, yarn and fibers before storing. If you're worried about the cost of cleaning all your woolens, the standard washing machine always has a dedicates cycle, run it with cold water and lay-out or hang items to dry. Hanging can stretch knits so I try to lay floppy pieces on a towel. There are a few sweaters I dry clean, but most of my wool collection gets it's own laundry cycle.

2.) Confuse 'em
 Many people recommend ceder, lavender, and cloves to "repel" moths. This items don't really stop a determined moth, they make it hard for moths to smell the dirty bits they are trying to eat. If your goods are clean and your stinky product fresh it will be hard for a female moth to find a good spot to lay eggs.

3.) Make it hard to get to.
The easiest way to prevent moths is to limit their access. Sealing bags and bins are a huge help. You must however beware of closing in the infestation, if a moth is happy to reproduce on your favorite sweater it won't even try to migrate. This leads to the next tip...

4.) Don't let woolens go dormant.
The more often you are disturbing the woolens the more likely you will find an infestation early. I also have squished many an adult and larva that was preparing to cause havoc. Don't let that bag in the back corner go untouched for too long.

5.) Freeze the Bastards.
After infestation starts the only thing to do is use physics. It's been cold enough here for me to use the back porch as an auxiliary freezer, so I've been cycling all my bins of yarn and bags of fleece in and out. Freezing does not kill the eggs, so you need to get a good deep freeze, then a thaw, then another freeze to kill newly hatched larva. With a freezer the standard plan is 1-2 weeks in, 1-2 weeks out, repeat as necessary.
I discovered a lovely black alpaca fleece (gifted by my awesome man, *SOB*) was heavily infested. I tossed it on the back porch and began going thru my entire stash. I found many things that were untouched, many slightly damaged, and a few totally ruined. I tied and rewound skeins that were damaged so they will be ready to use, and made plans for a whole lot of stuff! I plied a few of the damaged yarns for ease of use as well. This event has forced me to create a long stash-busting list of what I have and what I'm planning to do with it!

I've been installing moth traps as well, but they are only a part of a larger pest-management plan. They killed many males who were flitting around the closet, but in the infested fleece there was a self-sustaining colony. Those Bastards. I hope that none of you have to experience a craft panic like this, what steps do you take to protect precious yarns?

No comments: