Tips and Information
Pest Management

Moth Larvae
Lone Larvae
Moth Damage


     Rodents leave droppings, gather nesting materials, gnaw through protective materials and leave trails of debris and a strong odor.


     Many species of spiders will use textiles as a location for web building. Through careful observation,this can be eliminated before it becomes problematic. Some spiders, however, if allowed to cohabitate near textile artifacts, often accumulate soils, and cause damage and stains.
Cockroach and Frass
Cockroach Bag


     The single most effective way to avoid damage and to combat invading pests is through a system of management. A textile custodian can avoid full blown infestations by securing food in sealed containers away from textile artifacts, keeping textile storage and display areas clean, and inspecting displayed and stored textiles frequently.


     The two moths primarily posing a problem for textiles are the Case Making Moth and the Webbing Moth. The exact identification is not critical as they are dealt with in the same manner, both in prevention and eradication. If a moth is observed in flight, it is highly likely that an infestation of moth larvae is in progress or will imminently begin. It is exclusively the larvae that do the damage, as the adult moth's job is to reproduce and relocate. Other signs of infestation are dislodged textile fibers and the sandy frass excreted by larvae found near a textile object. Fabric moths seek and eat protein in fur, feathers, wool and skin. They will also eat soiled synthetic and cellulose fibers, finding nutrition in food and body soils left on textile surfaces.


     Certain types of ants nest in surprising places: beneath layers of folded textiles, inside a leather ottoman, or up and under fabric covered furnishings. Often, ants simply traverse textile surfaces on their way to and from foraging. Ants represent the type of pest that lives and breeds in one place and gathers food in another.
Ant Mummy
Cockroach and Frass


     Large pellet-like excretia, identifiable egg cases and a noticeable odor will alert you to a cockroach invasion. Roaches are active in the night, generally in warm, damp places like bathrooms and kitchens. A cockroach's diet varies widely, depending upon what food source is available. In museum environments, especially tropical ones, cockroaches are less predictable and will eat, reproduce, and defecate in and on textile artifacts.
Cockroach Damage
Centipede with Larvae


Identify the problem.

Eradication strategies include assessing the pest situation by identifying the signs infestation.

Determine the extent of the damage.

If, for example, frass is found on the floor below a displayed textile and, upon inspection, the piece is in a state of active infestation, other textiles in the environment need to be checked also.

Isolate the affected textiles

by placing them, alone, in a clear plastic bag , taped closed.

Contact a textile conservator for specific professional advice,

in a timely manner, as insects that eat textiles are voracious. Heating, freezing and treating the artifact in an anoxic environment are techniques for killing insects on textiles. Further treatment to remove all insect debris must follow. Consulting with a professional who will assess the situation and choose the best eradication approach is advised.

Avoid the use of pesticides such as moth balls.

The active ingredients in commercially available moth detractants is naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. They are meant to be used in a closed container, but when the container is opened, the textile will retain the sublimated fumes for a period of time, risking human and pet health. The active ingredients can also be problematic for multi-media textile artifacts.