Handmade Rug: Moth Damage Restoration

The Persian rug has two natural enemies, each as dangerous as the other, moths and dampness.

Aside from years of wear and tear the most likely thing to cause damage to an Oriental rug is a tiny, harmless looking creature that can go unnoticed for long periods of time – Tineola Bisselliella, the flying clothes moth. To be more precise it is not the moth itself that eats the wool but the larvae of the female moth which causes devastating damage to rugs and can be create a nightmarish cycle to break.

moth life-cycle

The typical lifespan of a moth.

The female clothes moth will seek out a dark, undisturbed area rich in ‘food’ to lay its eggs.

moth larva

A tiny moth larva – the damaging part of the moths’ life-cycle

These eggs hatch after a week or so and give birth to tiny larvae that use the wool to grow – this stage in the moths development can last anywhere from 2-30 months before the larva turns into a cocoon for a week or so which in turn hatches into a moth with a lifespan of around a month, often starting the damaging cycle again; only this time extrapolating the damage as each moth potentially gives birth to dozens of others.

Preventing a moth infestation and stopping it once it has begun is detailed on another page. Here we will focus on the damage the moths create and what can be done to repair and restore rugs affected by moth damage.

moth damage

Damage caused by moth larvae

As you can see from the image above the moth, although such a tiny creature, the clothes moth can devastate a rug. The image shows typical damage of a moth infestation after a few months, caught early little or no damage will be done to the rug. Some rugs, left for years in dark and damp storage can be completely destroyed, left in tatters and completely irreparable.

Many insurance brokers and owners alike will believe their rug beyond repair when moths damage their rug like in the image above. However, a skilled weaver or repair-person can re-knot or re-pile areas of damage to rugs, matching the design with skilled work to bring the rug back to life. The key issue in this is trying to match the wool, this isn’t always possible as some wool has been naturally antiqued and to get the same colour would take years of wear and sunlight. What can be promised is as close a match as possible to bring your rug back to its original glory.

Below is a video of our repair work on an Afghan Chobi Ziegler rug. This rug was moth damaged and due to the type of (hand-spun) wool used on these rugs being different from the typical Persian rug or colour scheme we had to import the wool from Afghanistan to carry out the repairs to an accurate colour. The results are exactly how we like them, like there was nothing ever wrong:

As always, contact info@little-persia.com or call 0141 420 6989 for more information or if you need repairs or advice on moth damaged rugs.

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One Response to Handmade Rug: Moth Damage Restoration

  1. Ryan says:

    To see just how much can be achieved by re-knotting pile check out our article on a Nain Persian Rug Restoration we carried out – an extreme example of rug repair.

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