Q for You: Can we talk about moths?

Q for You: Can we talk about moths?

Roughly 20 years ago, I inserted a pair of tiny gold hoops into my earlobes and haven’t touched them since. Lately though, I’ve found myself drawn anew to pretty dangly things and the thought of having them for date nights. (More of that whole how-to-look-like-I’m-not-at-work conundrum.) The other day, as I was cruising around Pinterest, I ran across a photo of the loveliest pair — so fluttery and delicate — and then I realized: moths.

I have an affinity for insects — or rather, their shapes and forms, as opposed to real live ones. Even if I didn’t admire them in that way, though, I wouldn’t love killing them. I don’t like to kill anything, but as a knitter I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to moths. I see one, I smash it. (Mosquitoes likewise leave me no choice: It’s them or me. And ants? Turn a blind eye to one and he’ll be right back with 157 of his closest friends, dammit.) So I was surprised to find that, were the shop not closed, I might actually have considered ordering these odd pretties.

Somehow “see it, smash it” is the full extent of my moth policy, however, and I often feel it’s not enough. I have assorted lavender and cedar sachets I toss into the closet, knowing they’re really not strong enough to do any good. (Plus depending who you ask, they may or may not have any effect no matter what.) So all I do is hope and pray that I never have a real run-in with a moth and either my yarn stash or my sweater collection. Which brings me to my Q for You: What is your moth policy? Do you use deterrents; have you had problems; do you have solutions? (Would you wear moth earrings, no matter how pretty they are?) I want to hear ALL about it!


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Product photo by CireAlexandria

77 thoughts on “Q for You: Can we talk about moths?

  1. I use cedar balls and (knock on wood!) haven’t had a problem. Hmm, I think I would pass on the “moth” ear rings.

  2. I have a serious moth problem in my flat (as do most of London, apparently?) and unfortunately, I haven’t been able to get rid of them.

    I’ve tried everything from sachets to sticky sheets that attract the moths to them. I’ve also gone full-on boiler suit, emptying each room, cleaning it within an inch of its life and letting off toxic “moth bomb” aerosols in there that are supposedly meant to kill them off. Still, they come back and eat our carpets – and my yarn/sweaters, if I’m not careful!

    The only thing that has reduced the damage is keeping my sweaters/yarn in large ziplock bags with sachets inside. Nothing has been eaten inside these bags. I don’t think it has anything to do with the sachets – it’s more likely to be the airtight plastic bags. I’m not a lover of plastic and they make my drawers look messy, but it’s worth it so far.

    I hope I can find a way to get rid of them for good. So far this morning, I’ve seen and smashed 7 moths!

    • In my experience the type of moth that eats wool likes to make a cocoon in the inside corners of cabinets and walls and where the wall/ceiling meet. If you look closely you can find them before the larva emerge. Also they seem to come from the grocery store in dry goods like corn meal, flour and rice. We put all such dry goods in tins or containers where the moths can’t get in/out.

      • I live in London too – the only thing that got rid of mine was getting rid of all the fitted carpet in my house. Painted floorboards + rugs = no tasty dark corners for them to breed in. A bit of an extreme solution I know, but it did work.

        • Last summer we had a moth problem in our house, and I was buying lavender, making sachets for every area of the place – but I also noticed they weren’t interested in the closets. Then I looked it up and found they were pantry moths, not the kind that eats wool or other fibers. Apparently, they’re not the same thing. These had come inside a very large bag of dry cat food. Dr. Killigan’s pantry moth traps worked very well, if anyone ever has a pantry moth issue. I don’t know how to get rid of fiber-eating moths, alas.

          • Also a Londoner – agree these two types of moths are different and I don’t worry too much when I see one in my kitchen. I pulled out my under bed storage bag at the beginning of the winter and found holes in more or less everything made of wool – though a few less in my handknits than in shop bought knits. Maybe the wool I knit with is harder to chew? I did a horrible mending job on one of them but still wearing it.

            Anyway, they are a pest and yes I shuddered when I saw these earrings…

      • To Aisling and others: Aisling is correct. After leaving my ‘cedar’ closet at home and moving into my 32 year old Airstream (with a supposed cedar closet lining), wool moths invaded and have destroyed my favorite Fair Isle sweater I have owned for many years. The secret to wool moths coming from markets is to put dry goods into the freezer for a few days. After living in my home for 40 years and not having to worry about moths surviving the freezer and entering into my cedar closet, then moving into the old Airstream, I had forgotten about the ‘freezer’ trick. Yet, another ‘old thing’ from the past remembered again… all to the detriment of my beautiful Fair Isle sweater and other things.

        You are forewarned.

    • Try slip wasps (in German schlupfwespen). You can order them from Amazon. They worked for my pantry moths. Just make sure you order the right ones (either for pantry moths or for wool moths).

  3. Use lavender and another natural, plant-based potpourri I found at Rhinebeck one year. Then I keep my fingers crossed!

  4. I love those moth earrings! Can’t hate moths, they are just following their mothy nature. That said, I have used various herbal sachets (including lavender and cedar) over the year, but still had occasional moth forays. Never a bad infestation, but an occasional single ball attack. But I have not had a single moth since I started putting a pennyroyal blend in my storage bins. I freshen it up every few years, and I love the smell.
    And a cedar warning – I had a friend who got a really itchy skin reaction after putting on a sweater stored with cedar. It’s very oily, and I think it clings to the fibers more than some herbs.

  5. I like my sweaters to last decades. Since I just turned 61 (yikes!) that means I’m expecting to pass on most of my sweaters to my daughter, who thankfully is a similar size. That is, unless they get eaten by moths. You’ve probably read this elsewhere, but the first rule for keeping moths at bay is to keep your knits clean. I usually wash all our woollens around the Victoria Day weekend (the weekend before Memorial Day for Americans). I use Eucalan, lavender, (because the combo of eucalyptus oil and lavender is supposed to help), then when the knits are bone dry I package them in giant ziplock bags and store them on open shelves. Not dark drawers or cupboards, because again, light is a deterrent. I store my wool stash in the same way. When we lived in Washington, DC we had a bigger problem with insects and wool. We would discover tiny holes in Bill’s suits. I suppose it was because we were farther south. Longer season, more insects, more opportunities. We haven’t had similar problems since moving back north. Guess winter’s good for something!

    • This is basically my approach too. Besides cleaning the knits, I also believe in annually “tossing the stash” (courtesy of the Yarn Harlot) — meaning take it all out, inspect it, put it back. It’s hard to do this, because deep down I fear finding an infestation and part of me would rather not know, but it’s better to find a problem, quarantine it, and move on. Keeping the stash subdivided helps limit the reach of a problem. As Stephanie (YH) has pointed out, your yarn can be the vector for insect pests (the same way granary moths often arrive in your home courtesy of some grain product you bought) — where there are large stored quantities of insect food, there will eventually be insects, and yarn shops and yarn manufacturers have a lot more stored yarn than you do. This is not a criticism, it’s just the way of the world. (I studied a granary pest beetle in college — many of these species are basically coevolved with us, having diverged from their predecessors when humans changed the landscape by starting to aggregate and store previously impossible quantities of scarce resources).

      I don’t bother attacking random moths. Only certain moths are wool pests, and unless you’re an avid entomologist (amateur or professional), you probably can’t tell the difference and are just as likely to be killing a harmless or beneficial insect.

      I believe in the power of plastic bags, but I am lucky to live in a relatively non-humid region (which also correlates with fewer moth problems). In really humid places, storing yarn in plastic can lead to mildew. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t — there’s no perfect solution. Which I guess brings me to the ultimate place I wind up when I think about all this: nothing is forever, and what was made once can be remade — or let go.

      We may have the intention that our handmades will last us for years and years, or be handed down as heirlooms, but we cannot actually control this. Accidents happen, the stochastic world intervenes. So take care and have a maintenance or storage routine if that feels right to you, but it is also ok to do nothing. Each of us must negotiate the trade offs and determine our own best path. Either way, it is likely that something will be lost eventually, somehow, and then — we will make it again, or move on and make something new, which will also not last forever. It will be all right.

      • Just wanted to clarify that *if you currently are fighting a wool pest infestation* that’s a totally different situation from randomly swatting at the chance moth who flutters by — that’s a case where it becomes more likely than not that the moth *is* a problem so my calculus changes.

  6. You’re tempting the knitter fates if you live in an old house south of the Mason-Dixon line without summer moth vigilance! I keep fresh sticky traps in every room, store all the yarn in ziploc bags or plastic tubs, and keep bars of Irish Spring in every container and armoire that stores woolens in the summer (it’s a strong scent, but really as long as your wool doesn’t smell like an animal or human body it’s probably safe). I also zip or tie closed every project bag when I’m not actually knitting, and freeze any wool that comes from unknown sources or somehow gets forgotten in a closet. I still see moths more than I would like, but I sleep better at night knowing the wool is relatively safe. (Yes, my family thinks I’m nuts. I don’t care. Moths are evil.)

    • Jefamary, LOVE your sense of humor about this. You are NOT NUTS! If you are, then there are hundreds of thousands of us ready for the loony bin.

  7. Lavender in ridiculous quantities and ziplock bags, plastic boxes and garment bags. I must confess I also use (toxic) mothballs for deep storage. I was curious about the pennyroyal mentioned by a previous poster but when I looked it up (thanks, Google), I found it can be dangerously toxic. I was even a bit surprised it was as widely available. As for the earrings, they are lovely, but somehow I think wearing them would be tempting the yarn gods.

    • Pennyroyal is very toxic if ingested, but as far as I know the scent is harmless. I wouldn’t use it if I had small children in the house. The cats and dogs seem to ignore it. The scent dissipates quickly once the item is back out in the open, faster than camphor or cedar.

  8. I’m in the ziplock bag/ plastic bin group. I’ve never seen a moth but I have seen damage, until I started storing bag/bin. I have tried freezing yarn but don’t think it helped.

  9. I bought some traps from the hardware store for kitchen mouths and put fish oil on a cotton puff put in it. I caught a lot and my problem is solved. I was told the males fly higher than the females and if you get them no eggs.

  10. I love the irony of a knitter wearing beautiful golden moth earrings! Somehow that seems defiant enough to repel real-life moths too. And I do have a fascination with entomological photos and illustrations – that is the safest way to see the incredible beauty of insects!

  11. I heard moths are only attracted to the dirt and sweat in your knitted items. My mother knit fur me my whole life. We never did mother proofing & we’ve never had them. (Knock wood). My policy is I attempt (key word attempt) to wash all my hand knits once a year. The non-handlknits I allegedly wash once a year. Thankfully never a moth. As for the stash. I pray.

  12. And let us not forget their ultra-evil wool annihilating cousin the carpet beetle…
    Both are foiled by plastic bags, plastic tubs, tight-fitting tins, etc., and herby sachets to aid a little in wooly scent-masking.
    And wool should never come in direct contact with cedar as it (and unsealed wood in general) is acidic and can yellow and weaken fiber…

    • I’ve heard this as well and tried wrapping the cedar in a layer of tissue paper before placing it in a bin with wool garments. Not sure if it changes the effectiveness….

  13. I follow the clean sweater rule, and make sure that all sweaters are washed at the beginning of the summer. I generally wash 4 at a time on the wool cycle of my washing machine, and let them dry out on the deck, spread out on a sheet. The weather has not cooperated with this plan so far, so this task has yet to be carried out. I store them all in a cedar chest which is over 100 years old, and I doubt it has any effectiveness against moths, but so far… My mom, who was pretty expert on fiber issues, at least for her time, believed in putting dry sweaters, and all wool clothing, in a hot dryer (which won’t shrink them) and tossing them around a bit which she claimed killed the larvae. My mom was pretty eccentric, so all her advice is taken with a grain of salt, but I do this with woven wool clothing (which I also wash in the washing machine on the wool cycle.

    I am a great believer in the freezer, and any yarn of unknown provenance, yarn purchased at fairs, roadsides, farmers markets, given to me by friends, etc, goes in the freezer, twice. The theory is that freezing will kill the moths, but not necessarily the eggs, so you wait a week and do it again. Any yarn that has an unexplained break goes in the freezer as well. And since i live in MN, there are times, in the winter, when i put whole bags of stash out on the deck for a couple of days, just to be sure. I can’t say which one of these things work, or whether they all work together, but I don’t have any issues.

    And definitely, if I still could wear earrings, I would wear moth earrings! (there is some old saying about keeping the devil close to you so you can keep an eye on him)

  14. I would wear the earrings; they’re great, and I don’t think I’d be tempting fate with them. As far as moth-protocol, I don’t really have one. This year I’m going to try to wash all my sweaters before the heat sets in. I haven’t had a lot of issues, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had any. I guess you could say I use a lot of wishful/positive thinking – hah!

  15. I squish any bug of any variety I see in the house. Until they pay the mortgage, they don’t get to live here. We do have our home regularly scrutinized and “treated” by a bug man, and so there aren’t too many to start with. I also wash all handspun yarn and finished products in Euclan, either the lavender or eucalyptus flavor, and I have lavender sachets in the closet. All fiber and handspun is stored in ziploc bags, other yarn is stored in small plastic tubs. I love Staples for all the plastic bin options! The finished sweaters are stored in a cedar lined drawer, other shawls and things in the closet on shelves.

    So far so good!

  16. I unfortunately had the same issues as Clare…every closet in our house was infested with moths. They enjoyed gourmet dining at its best – they only went after fine merino and cashmere. We literally lost thousands of dollars in professional clothing…my husband and I had many suits, winter coats, sweaters, pants, etc. that were ruined…not just with tiny small holes, but every garment looked as if it was swiss cheese – or worse yet, someone had taken a gun and shot far too many holes in them to count. We discovered them one summer when our winter clothes were stored in guest room closets for the season.
    Fast forward…we had to remove every.singe.article of clothing from every closet in the house and had the closets bombed three times by a professional. Traps with sticky paper were also placed in the closets after the bombings…and I’ll be damned, we trapped a good number of them. We ended up having a walk in cedar closet built in our basement and thankfully haven’t had any problems in the recent past. I keep all of my yarn in plastic zip lock bags and then place them in plastic bins with lids that lock. I had two shawls I was knitting and tucked them into bags and put them in “time out” for a season, and the moths destroyed them beyond any ability to selvage them.
    I HATE the damn things…and I’m sorry, but those beautiful earrings bring back too many bad memories to count!!!

  17. In our old house, I hate to admit it, we definitely had clothes moths. I lost one WIP to them and tossed out the fiber stash that I’m 99% sure brought them in. However, one can’t be sure that moving to a new house would solve the problem, and sure enough, I found some larvae munching on a felted coaster in the spare bedroom (which is separate from the rest of the house, and is not where my stash is stored, thankfully.) There’s also the issue of the 1939 Steinway piano sitting in the living room with wool felt for the hammers.

    So, I wash the woolens when we no longer need to wear them regularly and store them in tightly closed containers with cedar blocks. I can’t avoid storing them in closets, so that is just the way it is. I also try to keep some yarn from the original project on hand for repairs, if necessary.

  18. Love those earrings and I’d wear them in a heartbeat. Knock wood, I’ve had no problems with moths YET! I do launder my handknits at the end of the season, and use a lot of lavender sachets.

  19. See it, smash it, and freeze the garment I found a moth near (first wrapping the garment in plastic). If the item is too big to freeze, I bring it to the dry cleaner. I also store the items off season in garment bags or ziplocs (after cleaning them and making certain they’re dry). I honestly don’t think any method is foolproof. The freezer treatment, proper cleaning, and a seasonal routine for storage can keep extensive damage from happening, though.

  20. The benefits of a cold climate…I’ve never seen a moth or moth damage in my home in St. Paul! Not sure how long this will last as our winters get milder.

    When I lived in India I remember everyone used those horrible very strong smelling mothballs. I think they worked but they were truly noxious.

  21. Very very lucky here in the Pacific NW. I have lavender sachets everywhere because I grow it and its easy. Any moth has to go immediately. When I first started knitting and read the horror stories it was lavender sachets and zip lock bags. Now, years later, as a spinner, I have open bags of wool, balls of yarn in open bags, with lavender sachets. But I’m aware every day of the riskiness of this and of how lucky I’ve been. I live on the edge… ;)

  22. I opened my plastic tub of woolens and winter clothing to find a moth infestation :( a couple things got trashed (a pair of pants, a sweater) and a couple are salvageable though I haven’t repaired them yet. Everything got put into the freezer and I tossed the tub (there was….IDK crap? All over it). I haven’t put any herbal sachets in but I also don’t want to use anything synthetic since I have a very cute, very curious dog

  23. Maybe you can read my mind … I just blogged about moths on my (German) blog. We had left two carpets in the attic for probably six months. Last weekend, I went upstairs and it seemed as if one of the carpets had come to life (awful!). Since then, it feels as if moths are everywhere in the house.
    They aren’t – however, I have been looking for a solution. Here is what I came up with: Germans do either poison (moths balls, paper and the like) or a parasitic wasp. It lays eggs in the moths’ larva … You buy them on sheets by the thousands. Supposedly, they do not harm people and vanish / die / disappear once all moths larva is eaten up.
    And with regard to the earrings – beautiful, yes, however, no moths for me.

  24. I lost my best cashmere sweaters, a beautiful Harris tweed skirt, etc, to moths. I now hand sticky strips in the cupboard, every item was washed, spent time in the hot sun, and then stored in plastic blanket covers that have a zipper. I had to sort my sweaters by type and label the see-through containers. Other items all hang in zipper garment bags. It was a pain. It is a pain on an going basis finding my clothes. All yarn – both in progress and in the queue is stored in ziplock bags.

  25. I find moths creepy but in that beautiful way. I prefer bees on my jewellery. Industrious and sweet-making.

  26. I had moths in the nineties, not in my clothing but in my yarn stash. I didn’t get them in my sweaters because I used mothballs to keep my cat from lying on them and shedding – my sweaters were kept in a closet with built in shelves with door that didn’t close and the cat just loved to shed all over them. Now I put mothballs in with my yarn stash. Mothballs stink but luckily the smell fades while the mothballs can still deter moths. Mothballs last for decades.

    The earrings are very pretty but I couldn’t wear them either.

  27. I’m sorry to tell you that the little house ants you see are all female. Since I learned that, I ‘ve had a hard time dispatching them. We have a couple of invasions each April-May here in Philly, and when it gets out of control (like zooming around the middle of the kitchen floor rather than sticking to the perimeter), we put out those boric acid things. They carry the substnace back to the nest, and the numbers abate. I know it’s just death out of my view, but I’m at peace-ish with that. Also, having lived in NYC for a few years, I learned to put everything tasty to varmints in a jar or at least a freezer bag. Our problem is the cats pulverize their kibble and little shards go everywhere — and it’s delcious stuff to ants.

  28. I don’t wear earrings, never could. But if I could, meh, not sure about the moths.
    I hate moths – they have eaten into my favorite cashmere cardigans. Deterrent: small cedar balls here and there. But the damage has already been done!

  29. Moths are the story of my life since we moved to Texas. There’s something about being in a place that never gets below freezing that really enlivens the insect life. And what the moths don’t want, the carpet beetles do.

    Sadly, I’ve found that keeping things clean makes very little difference. We own a lot of commercial wool active wear that gets washed in the machine after every wear, and it gets just as many moth holes as anything else. I’ve gotten ruthless with ziplock bags–I even move stacks of sweaters into the two gallon models in the spring–and very good at spotting tiny moth holes and mending them before they get noticeable. The theoretical dangers of plastic bags are much less pressing to me than the real fact of moths.

    I also seem to have inadvertently trained my terrier to hunt clothes moths, which is as good of a method as any, I suppose?

  30. Can’t find “moth balls” anywhere. Were they taken off the market for some reason? That was the only thing that seemed to work, other than squashing them.

    • I’ve bought them at Walmart in the closet section. They are in cardboard boxes.

  31. Pretty much everything I know about moths is in this post: https://tashamillergriffith.com/2014/02/28/finally-some-good-information-about-those-nasty-wool-eating-clothes-moths/ Please note that the original article I linked to at the top has vanished from internet-land, but at this point the comments section is a post unto itself, full of people’s moth stories and ideas. This is (somewhat ironically as far as I’m concerned) one of the most popular posts ever on my blog, and folks still find it and leave comments.
    If anyone reading this knows an entomologist I could talk to, please get in touch! It seems like factual answers to some questions (such as how cold or hot does it have to get to kill moth eggs?) should be easy to find, but they are definitely not. I’d love to get some more straight facts and post an update.

    • Just ask Google.scholar! I searched “heat treatment moths” and got the following link, which researches safer treatments for handling moth infestations of bing cherries. I assume clothes moths will respond similarly. The researchers immersed the cherries in a hot water bath with a temperature ranging from 120-138 degrees Farhenheit for 30 seconds to 18 minutes and killed 100% of all moths without damaging the cherries. I think a longer exposure time to a lower temperature should work pretty well, so the recommendation to put your clothes in an oven at 120 for 30 minutes sounds good to me. I bet you could also just toss your woollens (perfectly dry) into the dryer for half an hour, too. That’s what people do to kill lice.

  32. PS Those earrings don’t look like clothes moths (different wing shape, antennae etc.), I think you’re safe.

  33. Can’t wait to read the comments. I’m absurdly afraid of all bugs but, when it comes to moths, I have no compunction about smushing them with my bare hands. I have gone through numerous moth and or larvae outbreaks living in a 130 yr old house in Toronto. I don’t know if it’s the weather patterns, the neighbourhood, the house itself or its age. It’s currently being renoed, so I’m living elsewhere and, guess what?, had another moth larvae outbreak a month ago in my rental house. While those earrings are quite interesting, I’d be wary of ever wearing something emblematic of what has caused me such effort and anxiety. As a knitter, I’d see it as bad luck – but then someone else might view the earrings as a talisman to ward off moths. I’m not taking any chances though!

  34. I use almost every deterrent already mentioned–lavender, plastic containers, cedar, freezing, timely washing, professional extermination. Still have holes appear occasionally in both yarn and knits. Not a problem; I can knit a replacement or buy more yarn. That’s what I love to do. If a moth gives me the excuse, I am grateful.

  35. After my moth infestation, I use Rentokil Moth Killer Hanging Unit Cassettes (I think they’re just moth balls, but no smell) in my closet and Rentokil Moth Killer Papers in my drawers/plastic bags. I buy them on Amazon and think they come from the UK.
    In addition, I use phermone traps to see if there are moths around.
    Like most everyone else, I clean all wool and put it in plastic bags with scraps of cloth soaked in lavender scent (and Moth Killer Papers) when not in use. The entire stash also gets the plastic bag treatment and put in plastic boxes with seals.
    All incoming wool is either baked on warm for an hour (needs to be at least 120F) or cycled through the freezer twice. Usually do a soak in 50/50 vinegar/water solution, too.
    On top of that, I clean all hard surfaces with 50/50 vinegar/water solution and put vinegar in the bleach and fabric softener containers in the washing machine. All this because I’ve read that wool moth larva aren’t particularly hardy and vinegar is enough to kill them (no need for bleach).
    I used to be much more cavalier, but after the mess that was an infestation, I take no chances (threw the boyfriend whose home started the infestation out, too, just for good measure).

    • Great info, but tossing the boyfriend was the laugh I needed. Thank you for that… and the info. ; )

  36. I make a line of moth pottery. I see moths as light-seekers, a little cosmic reminder. That said, if I see them in the house, I catch them and put them outside.

  37. I do all of the above and it barely keeps them at bay. We’ve had the problem for years in our old house. They drive me insane, flitting around rooms and then disappearing, evading being smashed. Our freezer has more clothes and yarn in it than food. I think the cleanliness solution may be a myth as I bought a velvet (not even wool!) dress at the end of the season one year, never wore it, and when I pulled it out the following fall, the entire front had been eaten away—honestly, it looked like a spider web. Best results happened when my daughter emptied all the closets, vacuumed and cleaned the bejesus out of all the corners, and sprayed with some lethal brew. I’ll ask her what it was and post later in case anyone is interested in trying it.

    • You might be a good candidate for those moth-eating wasps! Old houses are apparently especially hard to rid of moths, I’ve heard that sometimes they live in the insulation (old insulation was natural fiber?), so it’s not just cleaning, unless your house has been tightly sealed.
      Wool moths will eat any natural fiber – if they can’t find wool, they’ll eat 100% cotton shirts, too.

  38. Sob story here: I had a traumatizing incident with moths in my former apartment. I started noticing the little white larvae on some swatches that I kept out on my desk and when I lifted up a sweater from a pile found a layer of “dust” in the same color as the yarn. I later learned this is frass (aka poop) which they leave behind when they devour your wool. I kept my yarn and a pile of neatly folded FOs on display on a shelf and moths infested the area, getting into my yarn but mostly eating giant holes through about a dozen or so shawls, hats, cowls, etc. Some things had to be thrown out, others washed and repaired. It was so gross and so sad and I felt really dumb for being so careless! Since then I keep all my yarn bagged in large zip-loc bags and my finished items in plastic totes, specifically these: https://www.containerstore.com/s/garage/storage-bags-boxes/clear-weathertight-totes/12d?productId=10026213 because they seal (I’ve had moths get into other ones that don’t have the same seal). Its not as pretty to look at, but I feel more at ease and haven’t seen anymore moths! I fell into a rhythm of taking items out of the bins in the winter months and moving them to my closet as I wear them, then in the spring I wash everything and it goes back in the bins. I also placed a large amount of cedar blocks and lavender sachets around the areas where I keep my yarn and FOs which deters moths. The zip-loc bags have helped me keep my yarn more organized (the one gallon bags hold a sweater’s quantity nicely!) Overall my system works and keeps me organized. I hope others don’t find themselves in the situation I was in!

  39. I had never had a problem with them and then all of a sudden they were here in a flock. We killed and smooshed all over the place. I think one got in and it laid eggs and they hatched. But I haven’t seen any lately. We have Cedar trees everywhere here in North Texas. So I do go out every so often and cut a small one and get chips for my cedar chest. I have all my yarn put in storage boxes, plastic. So nothing out in the open. I would not wear a bug on my body anywhere. I remember years ago in the 60’s it was a craze to wear live cockroaches on a chain on your clothes. But not me. I so admire you. You could have laid down after your stroke and not gotten up. But you didn’t, you walked and walked and you have continues walking and knitting and speaking. I hope that you continue to do so. You are my hero. Take care. Linda

  40. I try to convince myself that they’re just doing their moth thing, trying to survive. And that the lifecycle of yarn doesn’t start with us, and it doesn’t end with us; it’s not here for my sole purpose, I can’t expect to have such dominance over nature.
    BUT, I keep my yarn and knitwear in plastic bags and bins, and go on a paranoid and murderous rampage any time I see one.
    As objects, those earrings are lovely. And I love the dichotomy of a knitter wearing them. 👍

  41. I say no to the guilded moth earrings! But I pretty much hate all bugs, I give them the 5 min rule, 5 min to get out of my house or die. Simple! I live amongst many trees, and with trees comes bugs, I have lavende & cedar shavings in small mugs around the house and in closets. But I also have baggies on shelves of a special “die bug, die” concoction. 1 part sugar, 1 part cornmeal, & 1 part boric acid, mixed up & then put in baggies where the cat or dog would not get it. I have not had too many moths, but I try to keep all my hand knits & expensive cashmere very clean and in a cedar lined chest.

  42. I asked a yarn store owner once how she deals with moths, and she told me that neem oil spray is the thing to do! It has worked great for me so far, spraying it inside my empty closet. It is toxic, however, so keep it far from pets and air the room well after you sprayed.

  43. If you ever watch the Gentle Knitter podcast, the host Nicole has a lovely moth tattoo on her fore-arm. She explains, that this is because she and months ‘have a lot in common’ in that they both love yarns.

    I would totally wear moth earrings. They are beautiful. Unfortunately, I am the sort of person who can’t cope with changing their jewelry. I wear the same pair of earrings, the same necklace, and my wedding ring, every single day, 24/7.

  44. Oh god, moth 😖 I hate them with a passion. The deterrents only work with adult moth, but those don’t do any harm beyond lying eggs. Larvae are the bad guys, and they don’t even notice deterrents. (And an adult moth will have plenty of time to lay eggs before lavender bothers it). Plus the chemical deterrents are actual nerve poison that You don’t want around your kids, pets or yourself. So I gave up on deterrents. But I have actually found a very effective remedy: In germany, you can buy “parasitic wasps” online.
    They come in little envelopes which you spread evenly all around your wooly things. As a yarn shop owner, I buy tons and tons of these to protect my stock, but I also have them at home.
    Each wasp is minuscule, and goes to live inside the moth larvae – eating their insides. Doesn’t sound pleasant, but for my woolies I’m ready to go drastic.
    Death to all moth!

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  46. Ugh, I have had moth problems (am still hoping I didn’t transfer any infestations with me from our old house when we moved in November) and now I just twitch and smash when I see one fluttering by. Thankfully I’ve only seen a very few in our new house, mostly after I unpack something. But I have had to throw out some yarn I’d unwittingly stored in an unsealed plastic drawer that ended up a haven, and a WIP got fairly shredded (it had sat for 3 years, though, so it was sort of a blessing in disguise). If I find signs of moths but the yarn isn’t decimated, I put it in the freezer for a while (would probably do about 3 days but I usually forget it’s there and it sits for at least a week) – you can bake it, too, which is probably quicker, but I have a gas over and am way too chicken to put yarn in with an open flame. I have sachets and cedar blocks, too, though I’m not sure they do anything but make me feel like I’m trying. I have also tried the sticky traps, though never quite managed to find the right match of pheromones and moths because I never caught very many (they’d flit right by the traps without a care). In any case, my yarn now all lives in ziploc bags, as unromantic as they are. I have a few skeins out and free, but mostly because I’m out of ziplocs! Am trying the “light as a deterrent” method for those.

    The earrings are pretty but even though they’re not clothes moths I don’t think I could bring myself to wear them.

  47. There are many many kinds of moths. Wool moths are only one kind. DH, a biologist, studies butterfly and moth genomics and is a university professor. I am surrounded by moth info. There is a lot of info here. Short version: Keep your woolens washed and clean before storing. Lots of light and air is essential, moths don’t like sunshine. Freeze items infested twice, with at least a 24-48 hour warm up in between.

    Moth earrings have nothing to do with wool moths in your woolens. :)

  48. A friend suggested using bars of soap to deter moths, so I put a few scented bars on the shelves in my linen cupboard and they do seem to be working. I buy a lot of yarn from thrift stores and have learned to bag and freeze them straight away (twice! I read somewhere that defrosting and refreezing is most effective) . For clothes I follow the advice to air and shake, apparently clothes moth eggs aren’t glued on and dislodge easily.

  49. *I didn’t read Joanne’s post! But glad to have the defrost thing confirmed (haven’t been wasting my time!)

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  51. Old houses with plaster and lath walls have horse hair in mixed in with the first plaster layer for strength. So the moths can live on the horse hair inside the walls! This could explain why it’s so hard to get rid of them. All my wool items now live in plastic ziplock bags.

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  53. Zero tolerance policy on (clothes) moths here, too! I have a battery-operated bug-zapping thing that looks like a tennis racket. It is oh-SOOO-satisfying to swing and ZAP! when I spot a moth. I’ve also learned the bag and freeze trick when I bring yarn or other woolens home from a thrift shop. We had an infestation awhile ago, and ended up having to use insect foggers (yuck!) to get rid of them. We’d tried multiple other methods first, but none worked. I haven’t really had to use the “tennis racket” since.

  54. I don’t mind the moths that live outside and pollinate flowers and such (and some are actually kinda pretty) but I have a zero tolerance policy for the clothes and cupboard kind. Years ago my entire yarn stash was decimated by moths and it was traumatizing. Now I store my yarn, silk and wool fabric, and wool sweaters in those canvas storage bags with the plastic “window” (you can find them on Amazon). The sweaters that I’m actively wearing are draped over hangers in my wardrobe but so far so good, they’ve been fine I think because I’m always moving them (taking sweaters down or putting back, sifting through them, etc) and moths like dark, quiet and undisturbed places.

  55. We have carpet moths at my house, which also attack wool clothes. In addition to the advice to keep woolen items clean, and separated in bags, I would also suggest getting a bagless vacuum cleaner that you empty every time you vacuum. The vacuum bag is basically a moth breeding ground and feeding site and I figured out that the moths were migrating from there to attack wool items kept in the same room. At my house, we got a dyson rechargeable vacuum cleaner, and after every use we take it outdoors to empty it into the garbage can. We even use a skewer to fish out dust stuck in the vacuum crevices. Since starting the protocol, we haven’t had any more clothing damage (though my rugs seem to be susceptible still and I do periodically spray them with one of those nasty moth killing concoctions).

  56. I’m in Toronto and I’m fighting them. I live in an old condo building and it took me 2 years to figure out that they are coming in through my laundry room plumbing connections from other apartments. I use the Safer Brand Clothes Moth Trap which catches the males with pheromones and a sticky surface. I’m using plastic bags to store things. Cedar and lavender doesn’t seem to help as I’ve lost a few things. I do think moving knits around helps and they don’t like light so open storage is better than closed.

  57. I’m an objects conservator and at museums and cultural institutions, we have 2 main moth enemies: case-making clothes moths and webbing clothes moths, just like at home! Check out museumpests.net and http://ipm.ucanr.edu/PMG/PESTNOTES/pn7435.html for lots of information. Keep (clean) wool and silk items stored in air-tight containers. For items that are out on display (throw blankets, rugs), rotate often and fluff/refold them (moths don’t like moving environments). Keep your rooms and closets clean by frequent vacuuming (vacuum underneath the rug, too!).

    We ALWAYS see an uptick in moth activity when housekeeping has been lax.

    Prevention or after infestation: freeze the items for 72 hours at -20 degrees C (-4 F) (this is just about how cold a household freezer will get), let them thaw for 48 hours. Most items will be safe, but consider this list for objects that shouldn’t be frozen:

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