How to Protect Wool Rugs From Moth Damage in Boulder, CO.

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How to Protect Wool Rugs From Moth Damage in Boulder, CO.

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The life cycle of the clothes moth can range from two months to 2 1/2 years.  Adult clothes moths do not cause damage; it is the larvae they produce that cause the problem. The larvae actually feed on wool. The adults lay eggs on products that the larvae will consume. Each female moth can lay 100 to 150 eggs that hatch in about five days. The larval stage itself can last from two to 30 months. An infestation of only several weeks can result in pile loss the size of a fist (see above top image).

Moths and their larvae thrive in the dark, undisturbed areas of a rug that get little traffic and are seldom vacuumed. Moths are attracted to the keratin in animal hair; a dirty rug covered in dog and cat hair is a paradise for moth larvae. They can feed on blends of natural and synthetic but not on materials made only of synthetic fibers. They also tend not to consume cotton.

Indicators to look for are a lot of flying adult moths; this shows the infestation may be considerable. Look for loose carpet fibers on top of the rug pile; this is a result of the larvae actually eating the knots off the rug foundation. Also, look for the cocoons: slightly fuzzy cylinders 1/8-inch in diameter and 1/2-inch long that are the same color as the rug pile. You may see the actual larvae squirming along the pile surface and underneath the rug (see image above).

So how to get rid of a moth infestation?  The safest and most effective insecticide is pyrethrum. The product is the oleoresin extract of dried chrysanthemum flowers referred to as pyrethrins. These strongly lipophilic esters rapidly penetrate many insects and paralyze their nervous systems. These materials are contained in various commercial products, commonly dissolved in petroleum distillates. Some are packaged in pressurized bug-bomb containers.

As with applying any material to a rug, first test it in an inconspicuous area. Spray the infested rug thoroughly on the front and back, preferably outside or in a well-ventilated room. Roll the rug up and put it aside for a day to allow time for the pyrethrum to work. Rolling the rug will keep the concentration high and potentially more effective.

The rug is now ready for a typical cleaning. A good vacuuming will be effective in removing the dead moth matter. The rug should then be washed using an in-plant method. Cleancare of Boulder utilizes the best rug washing facility on the front range. Your rug will be cared for by seasoned experts and any moth problems will be rectified completely.

WARNING: Mothballs are dangerous and DO NOT WORK!  Be aware that mothballs, flakes and crystals (naphthalene or paradichloro-benzene) are ineffective in moth control for rugs. These materials act only as a minor repellent to moths; they do not kill moth larvae, and the naphthalene odor can be unpleasant and difficult to remove from the rug. Mothballs are essentially bad. The active ingredients enter the human system through inhalation, and may cause irritation to the nose, throat and lungs. Headaches, confusion, excitement or depression and liver and kidney damage may result from exposure to mothball vapors over a long period of time.

When Cleancare of Boulder washes your rug, they give it a post treatment of moth-proofing. They use the safest way to protect rugs from infestation  by applying moth-repelling agents containing magnesium silicofluoride, a moth repellent. It does not kill moths, larvae or the eggs. Instead, it makes the wool less appetizing by changing the taste. It is applied as a spray solution and should thoroughly cover the front and back of the rug. It lasts for up to three years (or until the rug is washed again), has no residual odor and is not harmful to people.

One of the major hurdles to preventing moth damage is consumer education. Too many consumers believe that cleaning is not good for their rugs. People are home less than ever before, have less time to care for their rugs (vacuuming, other regular maintenance) and have even less time to inspect dark places such as under furniture for problems. Dirty rugs are targets for moth infestation. So even if you don’t use rug washing services at Cleancare of Boulder, vacuum both sides (yes, you need to flip it over and vacuum the bottom side) of your valuable rug often and do have it washed every 2 to 3 years by a reputable professional.


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