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Why do woolen clothes kept in boxes get holes?

Most people think that holes in woollen clothes are made by some species of moths. But this is not true. Moths do not eat wool. Then how is this damage caused? There are some larvae (caterpillars) of certain moths which feed on wool and other fabrics. The lifecycle of a moth is completed in four stages — egg, larvae, pupa and adult. The female may lay more than 1000 eggs on wool, furs, rugs, etc. In about a week, the eggs hatch into caterpillars. Caterpillar is the name given to the larvae of butterflies, moths and sawflies. During this stage, the caterpillar’s main function is to eat and grow. Examples of different kinds of moths are — the case-making moth, the webbing moth and the tapestry moth. Caterpillars have mouths with strong, biting jaws that can chew cloth and fur. The case-making caterpillar makes a little tubular case out of the wool it eats and lines it with silk. The caterpillar of the webbing moth always leaves a cobweb-like trail of its silk and spins a silk cocoon. The tapestry caterpillar eats into the wool, makes a series of tunnels and lines them with silk. When fully grown, it goes into one of the tunnels and stays there until it is ready to come out as a moth. This is how caterpillars make holes in our clothes. Clothes can be protected against such damage by making sure that no eggs are laid by moth on the clothes. Before clothes are put away for the summer, they should be aired and brushed to ascertain that there are no eggs of moths in them. It is good to wrap clothes in heavy paper because moths cannot eat through paper. Moth balls also keep them away, but do not kill the eggs or larvae which may already be present. The best way is to get the clothes dry cleaned before packing for the summer

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