If cared for properly a woven wool rug can provide warmth and comfort for over a century. Too often we see family heirloom rugs arrive in our wash facility with moth damage. A piece of art built to last 100 years damaged or destroyed in a manner of weeks by a pesky little bug. Here in Bellingham and Whatcom County we see two types of Clothe Moths as the main culprits. Some might say they are “consumers” of wool Oriental rugs.
The Webbing Moth
This bug at maturity is a yellowish beige in color and just less than a half inch in size.
The Casemaking Moth
Again, about a half inch in size or less, more brownish in color and shaped like a fighter jet.
It is the moth larvae that causes the damage.
The winged adults of both species lay the eggs and flee. It is their offspring who are the “consumers” of our beloved wool rugs.
The larvae of each species spin a silken tube that resembles a grain of rice in both size and shape from a distance. Webbing Moths will attach their tubes to a seam in the weft or warp yarns becoming stationary feeders. Casemaking Moth larvae are mobile creatures and therefore the damage to a wool rug can be more widespread.
Each female moth will lay up to 150 eggs. Mom is programmed to find prime feeding grounds for her offspring. She knows the difference between a Persian rug and a department store rug better than most folks.
Clothe Moths are in search of a food source and also a good environment. A piece of furniture setting on top a wool area rug is probably the most common infestation areas we see come into our wash plant. A sofa setting over a rug or maybe a dining room table, these are prime locations for the female moth to lay her eggs. Long term storage can be devastating when done improperly. An infestation of several weeks can lead to dinner plate size damage! The larva’s feeding cycle of a single infestation can last up to 30 months.
Tips on preventing moth damage:
Rotate your wool rugs a full 180 degrees often, a minimal of once a year. This is critical especially where any furniture sets on a rug. Remember mama moth places her babies where people do not step and stand.
Vacuum rugs regularly, this may mean moving furniture to access the entire rug. Vacuuming the back of the rug is a good idea too; especially along the selvage or edge of the rug. Much of the damage we see on hall runners is along the side of the rug. Hallways are darker and folks do not typically walk on the sides. Remember mama moth loves those kinds of areas.
Have your rugs washed every one to three years. After your rug has been dusted and immersion washed we can apply ‘Moth Repel’ which penetrates the entire rug including its foundation, during the rinsing process. If you plan on storing your rugs this is critical. If you have furniture standing over wool rugs and you are not rotating your rugs regularly, remember mama moth is an opportunist!