Flies & Fly Tying Keeping Moths out of fly tying gear

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    So I went to tie up a few flies for the first time in months and found a bunch of moths had eaten into a Hares mask ,  Pheasant tails and some capes , and there were what looked like eggs all through the natural dubbing ( seals fur etc ) , you can see some of them in the pics below .

    The little buggers had even managed to get inside zip lock bags !

    As far as I can see they don’t like thread or synthetics .

    I’m resigned to chucking it all out but don’t really want to throw out so much material , and I don’t won’t the moths to come back either , and so was wondering if for example I can just soak it in Isopropyl Alcohol for a while then dry it out .

    Anyone had trouble with moths in their kit before and got a fix ?

    And apart from going all synthetic has anyone got any solutions for keeping moths out ?





    Everything into the microwave individually for 30 seconds on high setting.

    It won’t save the damage but will eliminate the nasty things.



    or if the microwave doesn’t work check them in the freezer for a few days.


    Peter Gibson

    I use Orphea pest strips, from supermarket. One or two in every drawer.




    I had a similar problem a few years back when I went to use some material that hadn’t been used for several years. A combination of moths, small weevils and mildew had rendered the material completely worthless. Feathers and furs were disintegrating in my hand. I had no option but to bin the lot to avoid contamination with my other materials. Personally, I would do that with any infected fly-tying gear to avoid cross-contamination. It’s best to lose some gear rather than all.

    There are some options if the material is salvageable and worth doing. Isopropyl alcohol has some some-antibacterial properties. It may kill adult and larval insects, but probably not the eggs. It may not affect mildew or its spores. Lighter alcohols will work, i.e. methanol, ethanol or methylated spirits– 70% concentration will be enough. Freezing will kill the adults and larvae, but maybe not the eggs. It probably will not have an effect on mildew and spores. Microwave will work, but could damage (cook) the material if there is residual fats or moisture in the skins. The best option is autoclaving, but that means knowing someone at a laboratory, clinic, or hospital with access to an autoclave.

    For long term storage and prevention, the best bet for insects is naphthalene as found in moth balls. I have no idea if the smell will be detected by trout. Another chemical used in some moth balls is 1,4-dichlorobenzene with is also a disinfectant and fungicide, but it is rather hazardous. A gentler approach would be to use camphor or cedar balls. These will repel insects but will not affect mildew. The one natural product that will knock off bugs and mildew is Huon pine shavings from Tasmania. Huon pine is loaded with methyl eugenol which is one of the reasons why it doesn’t rot.




    mitch aka 2 fish

    sunlight kills mildew.

    unlucky to those in tas…






    Thanks for the suggestions guys , much appreciated .

    Think I’ll freeze the skins &capes ,Microwave the rest ,then dunk in Methylated spirits (The odourless stuff ) for the bits I really want to keep , and invest in a bunch of mothballs etc .

    Don’t think I’ll try to ask Infection Control if I can borrow the autoclave at the minute , they’re a bit busy with other stuff for awhile…

    I’m curious about the Huon pine thing though , might have to look at making some storage trays out of it perhaps and fill them with shavings .




    I think that the Huon shavings are good but as shavings it has a half life of about 18 months. From my observations after about 2-3 years you cant smell anything in the shavings anymore; I would assume that means that the oils have leached out.

    Although I have been known to be wrong on many occasions before. If someone knows for sure that it will hold the bug abusing properties for longer, I am keen to know. As I can make heaps of shavings with that bland looking timber.

    Cheers, Mark



    Any Taswegians got an old wardrobe or chest of drawers made out of Huon pine ? Surely someone does !

    And if so , do you get any moth holes in your woollens ?




    Huon pine shavings will still be working long after the human nose can smell it, especially if the everything is sealed in a zip-lock bag or a good plastic container.

    There may well be some Huon pine wardrobes and chest of drawers around, probably worth a small fortune, but those Tasmanians who rely of shavings will report zero moth holes.  I’ve certainly not lost any clothes or fly tying material.

    Naphthalene is probably more effective but I love the smell of Huon pine.



    So , what I’ve learnt …

    Moths really like Hares Masks and Pheasant tails , and sort of like Peacock and Seals fur and Capes/Necks and other feathers

    I didnt find any in the CDC or Partridge curiously , or any synthetics or thread

    Dont try and microwave anything with skin attached (yup ,had to give it a test , and a small patch of deer hair just curled up and stank )

    Be careful of which plastic bag you try to microwave , its safer just to remove the material, microwave  ,and then get something new to store them in .

    Chennile caught fire in the microwave at 60 secs on high , see pic below ! Froze the rest .

    Some capes/necks I wasnt certain were bug free but I couldnt bear to throw out I’ve frozen and then soaked in Methylated spirits …shall report if bugs come back.

    Bunnings did pretty well out of me on the weekend with Moth balls ,Metho , storage containers & bags

    I’m still curious about Huon pine shavings …do the Taswegians just get out their block plane and take a few shavings and then put it loose into the drawer ? Is Huon sawdust in a little potpurri bag effective ?




    Just a tip when microwaving stuff, don’t leave it in a plastic bag etc. I also cover the items with 2-3 layers of wet paper towel and then place it in the micowave.



    chf, thanks for reporting back.  I did warn that you can “cook” your material with a microwave.  I’m little surprised about the chenille as these days most are made from synthetic fibres.  I guess you chenille contained enough polar molecules to respond to the microwaves.  If the chenille is bound with metal thread, then there may have been arcing.  You can buy Huon pine pouches from linii.com.au.  I think the price is too high though.  Most Tasmanians probably get their pine shavings from markets, e.g. Salamanca Market, wood turning or souvenir shops, or direct from wood turners.  I have my own lumps on Huon pine.  However, since you have a supply of moth balls, I reckon you are better off with the naphthalene.

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