Moth Treatment

Problems caused by moths

If you have a moth infestation in your piano, it is highly likely that you are dealing with either Carpet moths or Clothes moths. The soft materials within a piano (such as wool and felt) contain a fibrous protein called keratin, which allows insects to grow. Therefore, these materials make a fantastic feeding source for moth larvae. 

Pianos have felt linings on their interior string hammers, dampers, frames and soundboards. These are the areas which are most likely to be targeted and damaged by moths. If your piano is old or not played regularly, there is a significant increase in the risk of moths settling and breeding inside your piano as it provides a warm, dark and safe environment for them.

The moths themselves do not cause a tremendous problem; it is eggs laid by the moths, which go on to develop into larvae that damage the interior of the piano. Along with feasting on your piano’s soft interior, larvae frequently leave behind casings and excrement, which can impact the way the piano sounds and plays if fragments of these substances get into the piano’s inner workings.

In order to have a functional piano, it is essential to remove any moth nests that are present. It can be expensive to pay a professional to treat your piano for a moth infestation, but if left untreated an infestation can result in the need for a string hammer replacement, which can be equally expensive. Luckily, there are several ways to treat and prevent moths from destroying your piano yourself!

How to prevent moths

Due to the fact that old or unused pianos are more susceptible to moth infestations, keeping your piano up to date with necessary treatments (such as tunings) and making sure it is played frequently will greatly reduce the risk.

Additionally, the use of cedarwood can also prevent moth damage. The scent of cedarwood is disliked by moths, and consequently they will not lay their eggs near it.

It is recommended that you refresh your cedarwood every 6 to 8 weeks. You can accomplish this by lightly sanding the cedarwood or by rubbing a little oil on it. Despite the scent being unpopular among moths, it is a popular opinion among people that cedar actually has a slightly sweet and particularly pleasant aroma.

How to get rid of moths

Fragrance-free moth killer strips can be especially effective in getting rid of moth nests in your piano. These strips will eliminate moths at all stages of their life cycle. 

Insecticide sprays containing pyrethrin are another way to remove moth infestations. It is important to use a non-oil based and non-residual spray, as the toxic oils could damage the piano’s inner mechanisms and finish. Water-based insecticides such as CB80 or 565 Plus XLO are popular as the toxic fumes dissipate within a few minutes. An alternative water-based insecticide that is proved to be effective is Fortefog Natural Protector Aerosol.

A moth infestation in your piano could mean that there are nests in other areas of your home too. Therefore, it can be a good idea to fumigate the whole space while leaving your piano's lid open. Adult moths and larvae should be considerably reduced or even eliminated as a result. Close the piano lid immediately after fumigation in order to concentrate the spray inside the piano.

It is essential after a fumigation to vacuum and clean the room and piano thoroughly.

Carpet Moths love the tight crevices between the bottom of a piano and the carpet pad, so take care to vacuum and clean thoroughly underneath the piano.

Things to look out for

Moths often leave behind damage and clues- such as fibre scraps, casing and excrement- that indicate an infestation. These and any other leftovers are fairly easy to spot if you examine your piano with a torch.

Another indication that your piano may contain a moths’ nest is if there is any noticeable change to the sound of your piano, such as a clicking noise when you play a note. If you suspect that your piano is damaged in any way, contact your piano technician to get it looked at.

Some may find that grand pianos are easier to examine for possible infestations, because unlike upright pianos, they do not have lateral crevices and therefore any larvae or damage caused by moths is more visible. However, it is still absolutely possible to identify a moth problem if you have an upright piano; it is just crucial that you examine as much of your piano’s interior as possible, which can be made easier with help from others and ensuring that the area is well-lit.