In my last post I worried about the possibility of my fabric getting eaten by moths. Rose commented, “do moths eat cotton?” I thought, hmm, do they? I just assumed, and you know what assuming does to u and me. So a simple google search later I have this answer courtesy the Ohio State University Extension:

Clothes moth larvae feed on wool, feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, dust, paper, and occasionally cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic fibers. They are especially damaging to fabric stained with beverages, urine, oil from hair, and sweat. [ed. note: eeewww.] Most damage is done to articles left undisturbed for a long time, such as old military uniforms and blankets, wool upholstery, feathered hats, antique dolls and toys, natural bristle brushes, weavings, wall hangings, piano felts, old furs, and especially wool carpets under heavy furniture and clothing in storage.

Damaged fabrics have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae and often have silken cases, lines of silken threads, and fecal pellets over the surface of the materials. [ed note: double eeewww.] Moths are destructive during the larvae stage. Adult “millers” or moths are entirely harmless.


Good housekeeping is critical for preventing or controlling clothes moth damage. Never allow clothing, rugs, etc. to lie in a neglected pile. [ed. note: no problem there.] Regular use of a strong suction vacuum cleaner with a crevice tool to remove lint, hair, and dust from floor cracks, baseboards, air ducts, carpets, and upholstered furniture is necessary. Keep closets and dresser drawers clean. Regularly clean rugs where they fit close to the baseboards and under the quarter round. Inspect stored foods and eliminate bird nests and dead rodents. [ed. note: awww, do I have to?] Launder and dry clean or steam clean clothes and other items before storage. Egg-laying clothes moths are attracted to soiled articles. Ironing will also destroy all stages of clothes moths. Sun, brush, and expose clothing to the weather. Outdoors, bright, hot sunlight, and wind will reduce larvae and damage. Frequent use of woolens and other animal fiber clothing almost assures no damage from clothes moth larvae.

So there you go. I have lost some wool yarn that I had stored for about 10 years to moths (or something else with shredding powers), but fortunately it didn’t involve all the nasty evidence mentioned above. It seems that as long as you keep your craft area free of dead animal carcasses and move your piles around once in a while, the risks are pretty low. Thanks, Rose, for inspiring this research!

Note: A version of this entry was originally posted on Dioramarama on April 17, 2006. See original entry for any reader comments.

Comments are closed.