A wool hand tufted area rug came to Luv-A-Rug for cleaning. The client told me that the rug had been stored for a while. When I hear that a rug was stored without being cleaned first I automatically start to look for moth activity.It doesn’t matter if you store your rug from a few weeks to several years, if your rug hasn’t been cleaned moths will find it.
I didn’t find moth damage, I found something much better. I found live moth larva eating the rug! I was excited about finding the moths, the client-not so much.
There are two different types of moths that eat wool: the clothes moth and the webbing moth. The moths that are common to Victoria, BC are the clothes moth.
It isn’t very often that we find moth damage in this early stage. It is usually after they have eaten a noticeable hole or a professional has pointed it out the empty larva casings. When I unrolled the rug I had disturbed them and they started to move, it is easier to notice them, since dirt doesn’t wiggle around.
I noticed the one first and after I found him, finding the smaller ones was easy after that. I found at least 10 larva, but there were more I am sure hiding within the wool fibers. When I tried to capture them in pictures they kept disappearing into the fibers. I guess they were camera-shy. There will be no noticeable damage to this rug because they were caught early.
This little one is about a 1/4 inch in length. With my extensive experience with moth larva, I would say that this little guy hadn’t eaten very much yet because he was still clear and not the colour of the wool fibers.
The larva change to the colour of the fibers that they eat. After the larva go into the cocoon stage the casing they leave behind is also the colour of the wool they ate. The casing look like flat pieces of rice.
These little guys ate the back of a rug just past the fringes/tassels. The excrement is like fine sand. When you find flat pieces of rice shaped casings on your rugs you need to get them cleaned and treated professionally
It is really hard to find the moth eggs. They are very small, like fine sand, and are attached to the bottom of the wool fibers.
Luv-A-Rug must do our non-toxic, non-chemical moth treatment to all rugs we find with evidence of moth activity, since there is no way to tell if all the eggs have hatched, how old the moth damage is, and if there are tiny larva hiding within the fibers. It takes just one male and female egg to hatch and you rug can become a great lunch buffet.
I am glad that the client had mentioned that the rug was in stored. If he hadn’t said anything and I forgot to ask, the unhatched eggs would probably have survived the cleaning and damage could have occurred.
How could the eggs survive the badgering and cleaning process?
The female moth attaches the eggs to the bottom of the wool fibers with a glue like fluid. This makes the eggs hard to remove by vibration, cleaning and vacuuming alone. The eggs are very small, less than 1 mm in diameter, and up to one hundred eggs can be laid by a single female moth.
Moth’s do serious damage to wool area rugs that is why we will not clean an area rug if we find evidence of moth activity. When you do have one rug that has been home to moths, you need to have all your wool rugs cleaned and treated. There is no guarantee that they stayed on one rug and that your other rugs don’t already have eggs or larva in them.
Moths that eat wool love dark, dirty, undisturbed areas of your wool rugs. They need organic dirt such as pet urine, drink spills, dead skin cells, pet dander, etc, so when you vacuum you need to do the whole rug, even under and behind furniture.Plus check at least a foot under all the sides of your rugs to make sure they aren’t eating it from the back.
It isn’t always easy to get the hard to reach places, but it is necessary to vacuum them at least one a month and get it professionally cleaned at least every year or two.
Here is more information about the clothes moth and how to spot them and prevent an infestation.