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Subject: Moths


From: Marc A Williams <artconservation>
Date: Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Lori Arnold <woodbldg [at] aol__com> writes

>They are tiny little moths, yellowish beige in color. ...
>They are tiny little moths, yellowish beige in color. The damage
>doesn't appear to create a hole in the clothing, though. An infested
>sweater will have little web-like casings all over it, usually in
>the direction of the knit. Another characteristic of the damage is a
>sandy debris under an object that hasn't been disturbed. For
>instance, a wool cat toy recently was discovered covered in the
>webbing. When I picked it up to throw it away, there was a pile of
>this sandy substance. Whenever I think I have found the article that
>is housing the majority of them--the "nest" lets say--I find
>something else that's worse.
>I know that freezing will get rid of infested pieces, but this is
>too big a problem for that at this point.

We have a very similar moth problem, also obtained from an
infestation at a museum.  Your moths seem similar, although I am not
a moth expert.  Ours are meal moths which feed on foodstuffs.  They
like to lay eggs and pupate everywhere, from under the edges of jar
lids to clothing in the closet.  They also create web-like
structures similar to what you describe, but I can't say they are
the same as what you have.

We put out pheromone sticky traps (pantry pest, available from a
variety of manufacturers), which worked quite well, with near
instantaneous attraction.  However, theoretically, these only
attract/trap the males, which is a major deficiency, as the females
are the real problem.  If you miss even one male, the infestation
can continue ('tis a pity females aren't lured by sex attractants!).
This certainly reduced the numbers of moths, but did not eliminate

We also utilized an aggressive kill-on-sight policy;  I'm sure that
if someone happened to glance in the window, we looked a bit silly
at times.  Vigilantly examine foodstuffs.  Throw away any that you
find with infestation--generally this will be larvae. Particular
problems are cardboard containers, such as cereal. However, we have
even found them in thin ziplock or other plastic bags of food.  Keep
all food in sealed glass or metal containers. If you must have boxes
or other soft containers, place them in freezer weight sealed
ziplock bags.  And remain vigilant.

The next step beyond this seems to be insecticide bombing/fogging,
which we have not done.  This will probably kill them, but you will
have to open all of your cupboards, closets, and other confined
spaces.  Instructions for these indicate that all food surfaces must
either be covered, or thoroughly washed. Obviously, the food
surfaces are exactly where you have infestation problems, and they
can not be covered.  Thus, you will have a massive washing project
after using these products.  However, if you want full control,
there may be no other alternative.  Hopefully, someone else may have
a better suggestion.

You may also have more than one moth type.  It would not be
surprising if a few cloths moths were present.  Pheromone traps for
these are available, and this will help you determine if clothes
moths are there too.

Three years later, we still have some infestation.  We have been
moving to a different house over the last number of months (no, not
to avoid the moths), and so far do not appear to have migrated the
problem.  But, we are not taking any foodstuffs except unopened jars
and cans, and these are being washed prior to moving, especially
under their lips, rims, and edges.  We are also cleaning virtually
all of our clothing before moving it.  Good luck,

Marc Williams
President, American Conservation Consortium, Ltd.
4 Rockville Road
Broad Brook, CT 06016

                  Conservation DistList Instance 21:24
               Distributed: Saturday, September 29, 2007
                       Message Id: cdl-21-24-007
Received on Tuesday, 11 September, 2007

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