Flying clothes moths do not eat your rugs, but the females do lay hundreds of eggs which hatch into larvae that consume wool, fur, feather and silk fibers.
Moths and their larvae thrive in dark, undisturbed areas where a rug gets little traffic and is not often vacuumed. A bad infestation sometimes leaves a cobweb-like veil in the damage area, along with fine, sand-like debris. An infestation often involves more than one rug and can spread to and from woolens or furs hanging in your closet or sweaters stored in a drawer. A rug damaged by moths is not difficult to repair but reweaving a large area of the rug can be expensive.
To identify the presence of moths,look for one or more of these signs:
- Flying moths — the common clothing moth is usually silvery tan or soft brown in color. This moth flies slowly but with a rapid flutter of small wings. If you try to snatch one out of the air,the clothes moth folds its wings and drops to the floor.
- Bare spots in the pile — often moth larvae will prefer the taste of one color yarn over another,and so the bare spots may involve some specific colors but not others.
- Webs — white gossamer filaments covering a patch of the rug’s pile (often only present with a bad infestation).
- Cocoons — 1/8″ diameter x 1/2″ long slightly fuzzy cylinders usually the same color as the rug’s pile (larvae camouflage their cocoons to blend in with the color of the wool that surrounds them).
- Larvae in the pile — slender, white, worm-like moth larvae about 3/8″ long can sometimes be seen just after hatching before they’ve constructed cocoons (it’s the larvae that actually eat the wool).
- Sand-like particles – deep in the pile of the rug — this material, often tan or brown – regular in size and granular is the excretion of the larvae.
- Broken/loose plies — where the larvae have chewed through yarn over castings or bindings.
To prevent moth damage:
- Vacuum your rug weekly if possible. At least several times a year – vacuum the back side of the rug, the pad and floor underneath. If the rug is too large to handle, flip the edges over and vacuum at least one – two feet along the borders on the back side of the rug. The corresponding areas on the pad and floor should also be vacuumed.
- Be aware that moth balls, flakes, or crystals (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) are ineffective for rugs. These materials act only as a minor repellent to moths. They do not kill moth larvae,and the naphthalene odor can be unpleasant and difficult to remove from the rug. Cedar scent is useless as a prevention for moth damage.
- Any place the vacuum cannot reach, such as areas of the rug under furniture, or a rug hung on the wall, can be sprayed with a household non-staining insecticide made for the purpose.
Most of these products contain pyrethrins (a class of insecticide originally extracted from the flower heads of chrysanthemums) among the active ingredients. Although poisonous to many varieties of insects, pyrethrins break down quickly after application and are considered safe for use in the home.
BE CAREFUL IN CHOOSING AND APPLYING ANY INSECTICIDE. Choose a product designed for the intended use and follow directions for application,storage,and disposal carefully.