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Clothes moths on a piece of fabric.

Clothes moths can feed on all types of animal fibers including wool and feathers.

Banish those fabric-eating insects

From eNews, june 9, 2005

Spring marks the start of swapping winter clothes for summer ones. But while in storage, your clothes are more susceptible to insect damage. Several species of carpet beetles and two kinds of clothes moths are the usual suspects. They feed on all types of animal fibers including wool, fur, feathers, and hair, and they aren't to interested in cotton or synthetic materials, such as rayon.

Here are some ways to protect your clothing from those fabric-eating insects:

* Clean your garments before you store them. Clothes that are soiled by food or perspiration, for example, are much more likely to attract these pests and be a nesting ground for their eggs.

* Store your clothing in airtight containers, such as wood chests or sweater boxes. You can use mothballs or moth flakes containing napthalene for added protection, but then, the smell of mothballs can be difficult to remove from your clothing next spring. (To get rid of mothball odor, try dry-cleaning your clothes.)

* Try cedar chips, which are sometimes used to repel insects. However, they aren't very effective in keeping insects away. Cedar chests are also popular but they work because the top fits tightly not because of what it's made of. Cedar can be a mild repellent when the wood is fresh. After it has dried, it has little or no effect on insects.

Did you know?

You can get the lowdown on insect pests inside and outside your home at "Insect Journal," an online resource by the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

* Practice good housekeeping. Vacuum regularly, especially around baseboards, floor cracks, carpets, rugs, registers, and ducts. This removes lint, which can be a food source for fabric-feeding insects. Also remove or properly store any leftover pieces of wool, fur, or similar material.

Adapted from the original story by Jeffrey Hahn, assistant extension entomologist with the University of Minnesota Extension Service, in Yard and Garden Line News, March 1, 2005.

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