General Question

Ltryptophan's avatar

Do moths eat wool while it is still attached to the sheep?

Asked by Ltryptophan (12088points) January 23rd, 2013

How did moths get a taste for wool cloths???

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11 Answers

bookish1's avatar

I have no idea, but great question!!! I hope someone knows…

thorninmud's avatar

According to this study, adult moths aren’t attracted to unprocessed sheep’s wool as an egg laying site (it’s the moth larvae that eat wool, not the adults).

Coloma's avatar

Haha..yes, great Q.
I don’t know!
Well…I have 3 sheep right next door in the field, maybe I should go examine them for moth holes. They look all nice and wooley. One is evil, the black sheep, so I would have to eliminate her from the study. lol

Coloma's avatar

Okay…a quick trivia search has gleaned a couple of fun tidbits.
Moths do not eat wool, only their larvae which would not survive on a moving animal.
Clothes Moths evolved in birds nests eating feathers and bits of animal fur used as nesting materials, a taste for wool developed from this.
Lanolin the natural water repellent in sheeps wool would also form a protective coating that would prevent moths laying eggs deeply enough in the fleece to allow for incubation.

So the answer is….possible but not probable.

Ltryptophan's avatar

Right, I figured it had something to do with fur remaining from prey. Nature uses everything.

Coloma's avatar

@Ltryptophan I have found birds nests over here stuffed with my geeses white down feathers they shed and wads of horse mane/tail hair from my neigh-bors. Bird nests give up fascinating treasures. lol

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

I would guess the oils and water repellants in the wool would keep the moths from doing anything. They have other parasites and bugs, but for the most part I’ve never seen any moths on sheep.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@Coloma cool. Neigh…bor,ha

bea2345's avatar

That was a good question. I have never been close enough to a sheep to examine its wool (the sheep in Wales were very intimidating). As a matter of related interest, I once lived in a house with a cypress in the front. During one nesting season, birds discovered a cache of yellow hairy string and over the next few weeks, built their homes out of it. The cypress was a sight, and I am sorry that I never got pictures.

bookish1's avatar

I still haven’t removed this question from my “Questions You’re Following,” because it is such a good question and I am so glad someone asked it! Haha.

Coloma's avatar

@bookish1 Me too, I love wacky nature questions!

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