Cashmere wool, also referred to simply as cashmere, is a luxurious textile harvested from cashmere goats. Its fibers are often used to make very soft, warm sweaters and suits. People aren’t the only creatures that like cashmere; bugs and insects are fond of eating the fabric, which you can protect by sealing in a garment bag.
Webbing Clothes Moths
Cashmere is the favorite food of the larvae of the webbing clothes moth. The larvae, small white grubs, leave a white silky trail resembling cobwebs as they chew through cashmere clothing. They eat keratin, a protein that occurs in cashmere fibers.
Casemaking Clothes Moths
A casemaking clothes moth larva lives in a case that it makes out of silk and fibers and drags around while feeding on cashmere fibers. It will die if separated from the case. After it grows up, the larva turns into a small white moth that does not eat cashmere.
Carpet beetles, like webbing clothes moths and casemaking clothes moths, produce an enzyme that lets them digest keratin. They are adapted to cold weather, a time when people often take their cashmere clothing out of storage to wear, making items more vulnerable to infestation and having holes eaten in them.
Cockroaches, which you may see scurrying across the room when you turn on a light, are omnivorous bugs that eat a wide variety of organic material, including garbage, leftover food and even fingernails. When given an opportunity, they will occasionally eat cashmere wool items.
Protect Your Cashmere
To keep bugs and insects from eating your cashmere, wash the item and then seal it in a plastic garment bag with some cedar chips, which naturally repel insects.
Julius Vandersteen has been a freelance writer since 1999. His work has appeared in “The Los Angeles Times,” “Wired” and “S.F. Weekly.” Vandersteen has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from San Francisco State University.