Yarns On Lockdown! How to Avoid Clothes Moth Larvae
I recently came back from a trip with a suitcase of souvenir yarns and woven shawls. Even though it’s getting cold, however, I haven’t even brought them inside. Instead, they’re plastic wrapped in quarantine. Before letting these new goodies touch my clothing and yarn stash, I store them separately, just in case I brought home clothes moth larvae or eggs.
Now, the high, dry Andes may not have too many clothes moths to worry about, especially because most of the yarns have been dyed in near-boiling dyepots. However, I learned a sad lesson once. A friend once brought me handspun yarn in natural wool colors, and when I looked at those yarns a while later, I saw a fluttering of wings and a sad number of holes in the balls of yarn.
More than once, I’ve caught a small flying insect out of the corner of my eye and wondered whether it was a clothes moth. Even though the flying Tineola bisselliella scare me, they can’t do any harm to my treasures. The adults are simply the telltale signs of a moth infestation; the clothes moth larvae are the ones who do the damage. And the eggs from which they hatch are very hard to kill.
There are ways to fight a moth infestation, but I’d rather keep the buggers at bay if I can. So I follow one of Judith MacKenzie’s smart pieces of advice in her book The Intentional Spinner: I keep my new purchases in quarantine.
Judith advises, “As an extra precaution, isolate any incoming fleeces, yarns, and other textiles for several weeks if possible. Store them in separate trash barrels or heavy-duty plastic bags. Keep them warm to see if any insects appear; moths hatch above 70° Fahrenheit (21° Celsius).”
Pretty soon, I’ll shake up the plastic bags and see if there are any signs of moths in my new pieces. If not, I can soon wear, knit, and weave my new purchases!
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