This past Spring I had a fabric moth problem. One day I just started seeing these tiny moths flying through my closet and I knew what I was up against. A few years ago moths had eaten through most of my cashmere and my response this time was sort of like the Bush administration response to 9/11: total war. I even demonized them. They were not an axis of evil, but they were certainly the Horseman of Pestilence.
I'm against mothballs -- you can't sell them in California because they're that toxic and not just to moths -- so I did everything else I could to make the environment in my home inhospitable to moths. I dry cleaned and laundered everything. I lined every sweater box with cedar and lavender. I encased the vulnerable clothing in plastic. I did this even as J was laughing at my quixotic efforts. Then I encased his jackets in plastic, as well.
It was months before we stopped seeing the little, plain creatures flying through the house the way they do -- like Woodstock on his way to see Snoopy. Each time I saw them I would seethe.
For a long time I couldn't figure out where the infestation was. I finally narrowed it down to the coat closet. However, I have not seen moths in a while.
The other day I was in the coat closet rearranging the towels and blankets when I found a dead fabric moth. The moths themselves do not eat holes in cloth, it is their larvae that cause the damage. The moths do not eat, instead they stay alive just long enough to lay their eggs and then die. Fabric moth larvae can only get adequate nutrition if they live on natural, animal hair-based fabrics like wool, alpaca, and fur itself. This moth laid her eggs on one of our cotton towels. I saw the tiny, glistening eggs not far away from the moth, whose body was so dry that one of her wings was barely attached. The cotton would not give the larvae the kind of food it needed, but she had no other place to lay the eggs -- all of the wool was packed in plastic. If that isn't tragic enough, I knew that the eggs would be destroyed as soon as I put the towel in the wash.
I was staring at a triumph of Darwinian proportions. I had done the things I was put on earth to do -- preserved my home and my ability to produce offspring. I was the fittest.