Thursday, October 28, 2010

Hair Explosion in my Fiddle Case!

If you've ever had carpet weevils in your fiddle case, you know what I'm talking about.  These tiny critters wreak havoc on horsehair and wool (felt).  Maybe you didn't know you had them, but you know the scenario:  You open your fiddle case after a short while of not playing to find a bunch of hair from your bow neatly "cut" at one or the other end of the bow.  If you look closely, you'll also find the tell-tale carcasses (or even perhaps a "live" one) in the case.  The shells are very tiny brown things that look like miniature cicada sheddings.  You might even see something like white powder, which would be the eggs.  To be more specific, you are actually seeing the eggs or shedded skin of the larvae of the carpet beetle.  You will also hear these referred to as bow bugs.

I happened to go through this scenario with a customer recently and we caught a live one at work.  Here are two pictures.  I put the inkpen in one of the pictures so you could see how tiny they really are.  I didn't realize these things were so hairy until I took the closeup picture of it and was Photoshopping it.  If you want to enlarge either of the pictures, just click on the picture.

How to you stop attracting these things?  How do you get rid of them if you have them?  Well, first of all, they are everywhere.  It has nothing to do with your housekeeping skills (or lack thereof).  It has nothing to do with how clean you are, or whether you live in the city or the woods.  They generally show up inside a case after it has been closed for at least a couple of weeks with the bow inside.  They also show up if you have a case that is lined in felt.  If you notice ANY loose hairs at all when you open the fiddle case, even one, you should inspect the case carefully.  Look for white powder or brown carcasses.  If you see any, or even if you don't but you suspect them, vacuum the case thoroughly.

Next, you need to put something in the case that will ward them off.  I like to use mothballs.  I know they smell, but if you can stomach them, they work the best.  I actually buy lavender scented mothballs (yeah, right!) that are wrapped in paper packages so you can touch them.  (You should still wash your hands after touching mothballs because they are poisonous.)   WARNING: IF YOU HAVE YOUNG CHILDREN, THESE LOOK LIKE CANDY!!!  You need to take the proper safety measures.  Fresh cedar also wards them off.  Both of these lose their effectiveness over time, so you need to check on them from time to time. 

Another thing you can do with your bow is to put it in an air-tight plastic bow container, or put it into a plastic bag.  The plastic bag won't keep them out entirely unless it is air-tight.  Zippers don't keep them out, either!

Now you, too, can be carpet weevil-free!

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