Friday, November 21, 2008


Anyone know of any beetles that eat wool?


Nearly all of my yarn is stored in the Yarn Closet of Doom. And I use old-fashioned but effective moth proofing in there: lavender. Bugs hate lavender. Every space that isn't crammed with yarn is crammed with lavender. And I've never had a problem. Not here, and not even in Hawaii. (Heck. I used to use lavender oil as a mosquito repellent in Hawaii, people would sneer at me. Until the end of the night, when they were itching from bites they got, even using commercial bug spray, and I was bite free and smelling of flowers. I use it here in the fuckin' swamp and it works, too.) ALL ETSY SHOP STOCK IS STORED IN A PLASTIC TUB, SEALED, INSIDE THE CLOSET. So, if you order my stuff, that's not an issue.

Unfortunately, the yarn has overflowed the closet. And I stored the yarn for the shawl from hell in my office, not in the closet. The yarn in question was stored in my office, INSIDE PLASTIC BAGS. Today I went to wind up the last - of two - and it was full of holes. A bunch of sliced yarn, right in one spot. (Which says Problem After Winding, to me.) So I threw it away in high dudgeon, and got out the other. It had the same problem.


Now here's the thing. I don't have moths. And I don't have larvae FOR moths. I keep an eye out for that stuff. What I do have, is little beetle-thingies. All over the house. All the time. One of the great joys of living in a fucking swamp in the South.

That's the best photo I've been able to get of the little bastards, and the brick in the photo is two inches high, to give it scale. My camera doesn't focus well enough to get a good closeup.

Far as I can tell, they're the only logical thing that could be eating my yarn (unless Sekhmet is, which I wouldn't rule out, but she usually slurps it up like spaghetti, she doesn't just chew breaks into skeins). They are all through the house - except for the yarn closet. Everywhere. In my shoes, in our clothes, in any unsealed food, in my books. I've checked everywhere I find them for damage, and never found any. (Trust me. Bugs in the books?? Oh yeah, I'm gonna check on that.) But they have been found in yarn - of all kinds, not just wool - that's been left anywhere in the house other than the closet.

They look a little like aphids, but they're not. I know aphids. (Half a botany degree, remember?) I don't recognize them at all, so they're not a major plant pest and unlikely to be part of any kind of plant life cycle in a major way. And I'm 99% sure they're not a larval stage of something else, because we never have any huge population of other types of bugs in the house - flies or gnats or moths or whatever - just these little bastards. (We get a break about three months a year, when the weather is cold.) I am as sure as possible that they're beetles, without breaking out the microscope, although knowing it's a beetle hardly narrows things down.

Anyway. I'm moving all wool into the yarn closet, fast, but anyone know if it could be these little fucking beetles that ate my yarn? Do I beat the cat? Or could it just be one of those things? (Shit does happen.)



amy said...

I think I read that carpet beetles eat wool, but that is the full extent of my knowledge. Google?

Rosiland Jordan said...

Please leave Sekhmet out of it -- she just wants to kill you, not eat the wool!

I'm googling now.

Roz said... --

This might give you some guidance.

Caroline said...

Yup, carpet beetles eat wool. Although the actual eating is done by their larvae which are about 1cm long and characteristically striped in brown and black with two hairs sticking out of their bottom. They might be hard to see, because they are often out of sight, but check for old casing around the wool and any other places where they might have been. If it's carpet beetles, the larva casings will also be striped.

I'm battling carpet beetle larvae myself, and I've also learned that the vaccuum is my best friends. Remember to vaccuum the baseboards properly, beetle eggs might be behind them.

(My confirmation word is frials. Maybe short for free trials?)

Sarah said...

Ugh! A quick internet search suggests (as others have mentioned) that it is possibly carpet beetles. Ick! More info:

Alwen said...

Can't tell from the photo, but yeah. Dermestid or carpet beetle larvae will eat wool, leather, feathers, silk. Hate 'em.

historicstitcher said...

DOn't put that wool in your closet!!!!!

They'll spread!

Emily said...

What a collossal bummer. How patient you are, not to have exploded. Or maybe you did; I would!

Interesting image of Goober slurping yarn like spaghetti; her bathroom experiences must be...unusual?

Thanks for the lavender idea! I hate bug spray. (My word is snurj.)

historicstitcher said...

I agree with the carpet beetle diagnosis. You've got a problem!

I googled it:

The larvae of carpet beetles are about a ¼ inch long and look like a brown caterpillar covered with short bristles. They prefer dark, secluded places like closets, attics or the spaces behind walls and under floors.
The adult beetle is about the same size but enjoys sunlight and feeds on pollen and nectar. Adult carpet beetles shiny black or brightly colored depending on the species. Finding adult carpet beetles indoors on window sills may indicate a larval infestation somewhere in the house.
The larvae of carpet beetles move around from room to room, so the source of an infestation can be difficult to locate and treat. The best way to treat for carpet beetles is to keep areas clean of animal hair, dust, old spider webs or soiled fabrics. Vacuum frequently with a beater-bar vacuum cleaner to eliminate eggs lying in the carpets. Eliminating food sources is the best way of preventing carpet beetles, but identifying where they are coming from is the first step in getting rid of an existing infestation.
Finding molted shed skins that look like the larva of the beetle, but crusty and brittle, can help you to locate where the beetles are feeding. If you discover carpet beetle damage on clothing you will need to do a thorough house cleaning including emptying, vacuuming and treating dressers, closets or other storage areas with prescribed pesticides. You need to kill the eggs, larva, and adult forms of the insect to get control. Roughly brush the clothing to kill eggs. When storing fabrics, seal them in air tight containers and add moth balls or resin strips to keep beetles out and to kill larvae. Resin strips must be used in airtight places so the pesticide can build up in the air, if there is a leak the larvae can survive and keep on feeding. Purchase carpet beetle traps from various on-line web sites. Placing traps around the house will help you determine where the carpet beetles are coming from.
Carpet beetle feeding patterns are similar to clothes moths, but carpet beetles generally feed on one large area rather than leaving many small holes. Sometimes carpet beetles will eat objects you wouldn’t expect like the felt and hammer inside a piano. The beetles also will eat stuffed animals or the horns of mounted animals. Museums with animals on display often have this problem.
If you want to eliminate carpet beetles but don’t want to fumigate or use pesticides then you can freeze infested objects for two weeks or heat the object for thirty minutes at 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Obviously, these solutions will only work on smaller objects. If it’s your carpet that is infested you have little choice, but to treat yourself or call in a professional pest control company to do the work.