Fixit: Holes in clothes? Bugs may be culprit

  • Article by: KAREN YOUSO , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 24, 2006 - 11:40 PM

Q My jacket came out of storage with a series of holes in it. What would cause this?

Q My jacket came out of storage with a series of holes in it. What would cause this?

A If the jacket was fine when you put it into storage and the closet was in use throughout, the coat could have been damaged by other hangers. Or, the holes could be the work of common garment chompers -- the clothes moth and carpet beetle. They'll dine on woolens and other clothing made from animals.

These moths and beetles typically live and breed outdoors, and arrive indoors by accident. But if they encounter animal-based fibers such as stored woolens, they'll stick around and reproduce. That's when the trouble starts. Larvae of both insects damage clothing.

Look in the closet for evidence of insects -- shedded skins or weblike structures on clothing. Treat infested clothes by placing them in a freezer for 48 hours. Freezing kills insects, larvae and eggs. So does dry cleaning. Thoroughly vacuum-clean and clean the storage area to remove hair, skin flakes, pet fur and other materials that attract insects.

As for repairing the garment, reweaving is the costliest choice, but it produces the best results. Check with a department store, tailor or cleaner who does tailoring. Ask to see a sample of work. A leather cleaner or tailor can advise you on leather repairs.

You could also cover the hole with a strategically placed belt, pins, shawl or buttons.

To prevent future insect damage, store wool clothing in tight containers placed in dry areas with even temperatures; this should prevent condensation. Cedar repels moths, but not carpet beetles.

Be sure the clothing is clean, dry and pest-free before putting it in the containers.

Squirrely pruners

Q Every year about this time the squirrels "prune" our oak tree. They nip off end branches that have several leaves and even acorns attached. The tree is around 40 feet tall and in good health, but the squirrels must be taking off at least a quarter of its foliage. Should this be cause for concern?

A Loss of foliage in late summer and early fall does little damage to trees because most of the season's photosynthesizing has already been accomplished by the leaves, according to Nancy Rose of the University of Minnesota Extension Service.

Keep the tree in good health by watering as needed and spreading a large circle of wood chips or other organic mulch around the trunk. This will help the soil hold moisture and prevent damage from mowers and weed whips.

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