A Perfect Environment for Moths

I suspected that at some point, I would create the perfect environment for some type of insect. When you have loads of dried plant materials and fiber it is rather likely some critters will move in.

Moth 1

This is a detail of a work in progress. It would have been a cup made of wool and rayon that I just couldn’t manage to finish. The head of a straight pin is in the upper left of the photo, and the tip of a pin is next to the casemaking moth.

How Did I Find Moths?

I read an article that stated empty birds’ nests should be removed from around your house because casemaking moths might take up residence. I had a collection of nests containing little vignettes in my studio. When I checked them, I found casemaking moths. After the shock wore off, and the sinking feeling that everything in my studio might be destroyed; I methodically started the hunt for the critters. I discarded materials and several works in progress.

I did a test to see if I can save a piece if it is found to have moths. I soaked some works in progress that had been attacked by moths in vinegar for a couple of days, rinsed in water, and laid them in the sun. My hope is that if there were eggs, they were killed.

The vinegar soaking changed the appearance of the pieces. I bind fiber onto washers for use as coding components. The bottom row was soaked in vinegar. The washers are not the same type, but they have a similar composition. The fiber is wool that sustained a color change due to the oxidation of the metal. The change in color of the cream wool is not to my liking, so the solution would be to age the washers, then bind them.


If the same or similar result occurs the next time I use a vinegar bath, I’m pretty sure that I will use the technique in the future to age some pieces. It is simple and non-toxic.

I found the casemaker moths–

  • on the back of a framed piece
  • on older books, the bits facing the wall
  • in the bottom of a bowl that contained components for projects
  • in baskets of materials
  • on woven pieces
  • around baseboards
  • behind doors
  • under furniture
  • even inside a spare pair of work shoes

Some insects are attracted to a particular color, fragrance or pheromone, or a location. I did not find a pattern or consistency in where they made their homes.

Moth 2

And it does not seem to matter if the fiber was impregnated with wax or shellac. It may be too early to tell, but I do not think that they took up residence in or on any of my work that was treated with salt.

This is the edge of a piece of foam core that I used for a photo set-up.
Moth 3

For More Information From Reliable Sources–

Casemaking Clothes Moth AgriLife Extension Texas A&M

Clothes Moths by Mike Potter, Extension Entomologist, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture

Clothes Moths University of California Agriculture & Natural Resources, Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program

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