Identifying Moth Damage on Rugs

3 Signs that Your Rug Has a Moth or Bug Infestation and What to Do About It

What attracts moths to rugs?

10/04/2018 | Last Updated 2018 | This Article has Been Optimized for an International Audience with North American English

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Sign 1: Holes in the Rug • Sign 2: White Showing Through the RugWhite Sticky Substance on the Back of the RugTreating Infestations • Preventing Rug Moth Damage

How to Identify Moths and Bugs on Rugs: Sign 1 – Physically Seeing the Bugs

If you can physically see moths, or wriggling white spots on your textile (moth larvae), or any other type of bug, you have an infestation. This may seem like a trivial point but its actually an important point. Let me explain.

Moths and carpet beetles feed on wool. Since rugs are made out of yarn, moths and beetles have no incentive ever to leave the textile. After all, it is essentially an all-you-can-eat buffet that can feed a colony of insects for months or even years. That’s why if you see one crawling around you can almost be sure that you have a full problem with them.

The picture below shows moth larvae on the fibers. This picture is misleading to a degree, however, because bug and moth eggs are microscopic at first. Therefore, you cannot tell if you have an infestation merely by looking for bugs. That’s why we will look at the other means of identifying rug moth damage and bug infestations below.

How to Identify Moths on Rugs | Sign 2 – White Showing Through the Rug

If you begin to see bright white patches in your textile, you either have a bug or moth infestation, or you need to wash the dirt out of your rug. Here is a picture of the rug moth damage I am speaking of:

Generally speaking, weavers make textiles from different types of fibers. The warp of the textile (the foundation used to knot wool too) is commonly made from cotton which is not usually eaten by either moths or carpet beetles. As a result, the moths eat the wool on top, leaving the bright white warp exposed. NOTE: This type of damage is also commonly associated with abrasive dirt damage. Either way, you should bring in the textile for immediate care if you have this symptom.

How to Tell if You Have Moths on Your Rug | Sign 3 – Holes in the Rug

Many textiles are made of 100% wool fibers. If this is the case, the rug moth damage is much more pronounced, as the moths eat through the entire rug. This leaves holes in the rug.

Rug moth damage of this variety is easy to spot because there are not many things that cause this type of damage. The closest kind of damage is dry rot which causes the foundation of the textile to become brittle, crack, and leaves holes in the textile. Rotting, however, is very easy to spot because the fibers are typically discolored, and the texture of the fibers is unusually firm. Here is a picture of dry rot for reference:

Dry rot on an oriental rug

By contrast, the holes from moth damage are not discolored and usually are much more dramatic. If you start to see small or large holes in the rug, that is a clear sign that you probably have rug moth damage or a bug infestation.

How to Tell if You Have a Bug Infestation on Your Rug | Sign 4 – Sticky Cacoons

The most obscure but probably the most common way of determining if you have a rug moth damage problem is by spotting moth cocoons on the textile. These cocoons look like unusual white spots on the textile. Here is a picture of moth cocoons for reference:

They are sticky and look similar to stray fibers. Although they look inconsequential, checking the underside of your textile for these cocoons can save your priceless textile from being destroyed by beetle or rug moth damage.

How To Get Rid of Moths on Your Rug

The first step to getting rid of moths and other bugs in your textile is to contact cleaners in your areas. Some textile service businesses, like this one, have everything in the shop to kill off the bug and moth populations. Not all do, however, so you may have to hire a pest control expert to kill off the moths before taking it in for cleaning. The only way to know is to call around and see what your options are.

The next step is to get the textile cleaned immersively and have the fibers treated with an anti-moth and bug formula. The cleaning is necessary for dislodging all the larvae and eggs hiding in the threads. The treatment helps prevent moths and beetles in the future by making the fibers taste horrible to the bugs. Between these two steps, the infestations should be wiped out.

Can Rug Moth Damage Be Repaired?

Now that the moths or bug populations have been removed from the textile, you may be wondering whether or not the damage can be fixed. Unfortunately, the answer is no from a realistic perspective. The rug moth damage can wreak havoc on the textile.

If the textile has historical value or is of high monetary value to it than you may be able to send in the rug to an expert that can repair sections of the textile. If this is your goal then you have to make sure that you catch it early enough. Rug moth damage can decimate a textile to the point of no return in a concise amount of time.

Preventing Moth Damage in Storage and the Home

The first step to avoiding rug moth damage is to have the textile treated with an anti-moth formula. As mentioned above anti-bug treatment makes the fibers taste poisonous to bugs. At the same time as the treatment, you should get the textile cleaned immersively to remove eggs in the threads.

Another preventative step you can take is to put the textile in a light rich area. Moths are nocturnal feeders and carpet beetles avoid sunlight. Therefore, putting the textile into a light rich area makes any bugs uncomfortable. Be careful, however, that you do not put it into direct sunlight. UV rays cause the dyes in the threads to fade over time which can cause damage that needs to be corrected by a rug dyeing specialist. This type of work is hard to come by (unless you live in the UK and can send it to us!)

We hope that this article has highlighted many ways of identifying rug moth damage and bug infestations. If you like this article please share it online and spread the love. Thank you for reading!