Friday Cat-erpillar Blogging: Cedar Chests

Clothes moth larva

Clothes moth larva
Photo: Guido Gerding

Cool weather and it is time to get the sweaters out of the cedar chest. Historically, cedar chests have been used to protect woolens in storage from clothes moths and other insects. In 1922, L.O. Howard and and William A Taylor published USDA Bulletin Number 1051: “Red Cedar Chests and Protection Against Moth Damage”. They extensively tested cedar chests on populations of Tineola bisselliella, the clothes moth. They found the chests to be effective against young larvae but not larvae that were half grown. They recommended:

Garments should not be placed in chests without first having been beaten, brushed, and sunned to remove the larvae. This treatment, advised as a preliminary for all materials intended for storage in cedar chests, if painstakingly done should remove even younger and
smaller larvae. Any larvae remaining, however, and entering the chests with the clothing are apt to be very young or very small. This is a most important fact, as cedar chests kill only very young or small larvae.

Today, many people dry clean or wash woolens prior to winter storage. This also removes the larvae. Clothes moths are active in the warm summer when woolens are not worn or checked regularly and the larvae can damage clothes without much notice.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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