The warm weather makes me want to finish up cleaning and storing winter items. I typically wash all our winter coats, hats, mittens, and scarves. The flannel sheets and heavy blankets are clean and stored away. The next thing I need to do is wash or dry-clean all our woolen sweaters and shirts and store them to prevent damage from clothing moths.
I did a little research on clothing moths since it has been a while since we had any questions from AnswerLine callers on this topic. These moths like to lay eggs on woolen and other animal fiber articles of clothing. There are actually two different species of clothing moths.
The case making clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth both appear very similar. They are both yellowish in color and about ¼ inch long. They look a bit fluttery when flying and both avoid the light. Their fully grown larvae are about ½ inch long and white when brownish-black heads. Both will spin a feeding tube or protective case into the fabric that they are feeding upon.
This larval stage is the only life stage when the insect feeds; the eggs and adult moths do not damage clothing. The clothing moths prefer quiet dark areas like closets, attics and seldom used drawers or trunks. If you store an item for a long time in one of those quiet spots the item is particularly at risk. Moths typically will not damage anything in a high traffic or use area.
You may be wondering how to prevent a clothing moth infestation. The best answer to this is to be meticulous in keeping both the storage area and the garments clean. Vacuuming will remove eggs and laundering or dry cleaning will also destroy the eggs. Cleaning items will also remove food stains and body oils which will also attract moths. You may need to brush or leave items in the bright sunlight to get rid of larvae or eggs. Remember to brush the items outdoors so you don’t re-infest your home.
Freezing is another alternative to control the larvae or eggs in an item that you cannot wash or dry-clean. You must leave the item in a freezer set at 0F for at least 48-72 hours. This will be great if you have stuffed animals or items with feathers on them.
After your items are cleaned, store them in a tightly sealed container. You may want to choose a tightly sealed plastic tub. Cedar does contain oil that acts as an insecticide but is only effective if tightly contained. A cedar closet is not typically tight enough to actually kill the moths. Moth balls can be effective if placed inside a tightly sealed container but they are toxic and you may want to avoid using them. The odor of the mothballs is very long lasting so you may choose to just use the tightly sealed tub alone.
It looks like I have a project for this weekend, but once I get everything cleaned it will be safely stored for the summer.
Last spring at about this time we published a blog with some suggestions of items to avoid when buying or selling at a garage sale. That advice seems timely again but we also have some suggestions for those who want to make smart purchases at a sale.
- It is important to know what an item is worth to know if you are indeed getting a bargain. If it is a collectable item, brush up on prices by looking at collectors’ magazines or webpages. Even eBay can be a quick resource.
- Look for brand names that you trust for high quality items. Avoid overpaying on the strength of the brand name alone.
- Be sure that your really need the item. A bargain is not worth it if it is something that will just take up space at your home but not be useful.
- If you are looking at a major investment, a car, boat, or large appliance, give yourself time to think about the purchase. You may even want to consult a mechanic or repair person for advice. The repairman may know what part of the appliance wears the fastest and the expected life of the appliance.
- Be realistic about the actual price of the item. If it requires a lot of repair before it is useable, it may not be a bargain after all.
- Try to arrive at the sale early as you will have more of an opportunity to evaluate the item.
- Don’t assume that the price marked is firm; be willing to negotiate for a lower price. Be realistic about true value of the item.
Taking some time to do a bit of research should help you know a bargain when you see one. Happy shopping.
It is time to start hunting for morel mushrooms. I have been looking at some advice from experienced mushroom hunters to see what tips might help me find some morels this spring.
The first tip is to post pictures of morels all around the home or office. The theory is that if you are very familiar with the shape, they will be easier to spot.
Remember to check for signs that it is time to start hunting. You should see oak leaves that are the size of a squirrel’s ear, budding lilacs, dandelions, and other early spring flowers in bloom. At this time of the year, expect daytime temperatures in the sixties and night temperatures in the fifties.
More important is the actual soil temperature. Temperatures in the low fifties are best; temperature seems to be more important than the direction that the hillside faces. Earlier in the spring seems to be the best time to begin searching. If a cold snap occurs, there may not be as many morels growing after the weather warms up again.
Dead trees seem to be a great spot to search. Elms, Ash trees, Apple trees, and many other trees provide just the right nutrients for morels.
If the spring has been dry, look at the base of a hill. The soil will still be a bit moist there. Creek bottoms that get some sunlight are also great spots to hunt.
Once you have found some morels, remember:
- Don’t collect morels that have been exposed to pesticides.
- Don’t mix morels and other types of mushrooms
- If the morel doesn’t look good (old, discolored, decaying) don’t harvest it
- Use paper sacks, not plastic for harvest and storage of morels. They will rot in plastic bags.
- Always cook morels, don’t eat them raw.
- Follow directions for cooking and freezing from our previous blog post.
Happy hunting and eating.
We have been thinking and talking a lot about gardens this fall at AnswerLine. One topic we don’t always think about is planting things in the garden that will attract butterflies. I seem to remember seeing many more butterflies when I was young. Even when my children were young, I remember seeing butterflies more often than I do now.
This fall, while my garden efforts are still fresh in my mind, I want to plan what I will do next spring to attract butterflies to my yard. I KNOW that my grandchildren will really enjoy watching and trying to catch them. Iowa State University Extension and Outreach has a new publication that explains everything you need to know to plan your garden. Butterflies and bees will also help pollinate other garden plants, so planting to lure them to my garden will help the rest of the plants and fruit trees in my yard. I’m going to get to work on my new garden plan this weekend.