Bugs! Everywhere! If you have lots of fleece hanging around, eventually the moths will find it... and then invade. I found moth casings in Martin's closet, upstairs where I do not have any fleece. Others have found the evidence in their favorite wool sweaters and suits. How did they get there, and where do they come from? I don't have a clue! But if there is fleece, they will come.
Last issue, we discussed preventatives for moths. Remember: Clean, Bright, Air. Store clean fleeces in a bright area and with air movement. If you don't have an area like that, periodically, pull out the fleece, check for bugs, and leave in the light. So now, you start working with that favorite fleece that you have been saving, and you either see a flitter of white out of the corner of your eye, or you discover that your fleece dissolves in your hand. If you look closely, there may be tiny tunnels through the fiber, and grit falling out. I rarely see moths, but often see the little white casings (pupa stage), about ¼ inch. If they are flat, the critter is gone. If they are round, you can squeeze the critter inside. It sounds "gross," but after your favorite fleece is ruined, it's not so bad! If the casings are empty, there are probably eggs still in the fleece.
So, what do you do? I always heard freezing works well. Leave the fleece outside in the cold, or throw it in the freezer. But... as reported by Susie Smithers in Wooly notes (reprinted from ORVLA Topline), "A controlled experiment was completed by Judith Mackenzie. Judith had access to chemists and entomologists as part of her research on textiles for the Canadian government. She had commented that the temperature needed (-30 degrees Celsius or -40 degrees Fahrenheit) is beyond the scope of home freezers. 'Freezing in a home freezer will kill the larvae -(but) the eggs are the problem. Freezing increases the percentage of eggs that will hatch.
If freezing doesn't work, then let’s use heat. Bringing the fiber to a boiling and simmer. This will kill all stages. Boiling isn't the best for the fiber, but it is a way to save it. Another heat method is to take the fleece, put it in a black sealed bag, and let the sun bake it. Once again, the fleece needs to be heated up in order to kill the bugs and eggs.
A chemical method is No Pest Strips. These are found in hardware stores and home centers. If these are added to a sealed bag for 10-14 days, they will kill all stages. For those of us that have moths, you will often find a pot boiling away on our wood stoves, full of yarn or fleece. We are also making an effort to go through the fleeces, and get them clean, then storing them with the no pest strips. Having moths invade is a disaster, but it also makes you take care of your fiber and products. So think about your fleece, and as stated in the last newsletter, USE IT OR LOSE IT!