Pulling a prized shirt or a beautiful dress out of your wardrobe, cabinet or chest of drawers, only to find it riddled with moth holes, can pretty much ruin your day. Over the centuries, people have tried all kinds of repellents to keep this insects away from their clothing, from moth balls to lavender oil. However, if you choose the right materials to build your wardrobe, you may not have to resort to any kind of moth repellent—certain varieties of cedar wood have long been believed to repel moth invaders.
How does cedar repel moths?
Contrary to popular belief, it is the moth larva, rather than the adult moth, that likes to chew embarrassing holes in your underpants. With adult moths generally use plants for food, the larvae are capable of digesting a much wider variety of organic materials for food, including fabrics. Egg-laying female moths like to lay their eggs in a place that is dark, sheltered, and which has a ready supply of food for their young. With this in mind, your priority is repelling female moths, since the males are harmless and the immature moth larvae lack wings and are incapable of much in the way of movement.
Certain varieties of cedar achieve this with the natural oils they produce while alive, and which remains impregnated within their wood once felled and prepared for sale. The strong scent of this oil effectively masks the presence of your clothing to the female moths, who search for suitable laying locations with smell rather than sight.
What kinds of cedar repel moths?
There are many trees in the cedar family, and no two are equal. While many people think that any kind of cedar will do when it comes to making a moth-resistant cabinet, there are only two types of wood that you should be looking out for:
- Western red cedar—Sometimes sold as Pacific red cedar or shinglewood, western red cedar naturally holds a pungent, distinctively-scented oil within the pores of its wood. This wood has long been used to keep moths away from valuable fabrics, and the oil is often extracted and applied to other woods. It has little effect on moth larvae that manage to get inside your cabinets.
- Aromatic red cedar—Also known as Eastern red cedar or pencil cedar, this wood contains a similar oil to the Western red cedar. However, this oil has more deadly qualities, and in a well-built cabinet with low air circulation it can actually kill moth larvae. Since the aromatic red cedar is actually a juniper species rather than a 'true' cedar, it generally grows much smaller, so this wood is often used as a veneer. Be aware that the moth-repellent oils in this wood are not as concentrated as they are in western red cedar, and will evaporate away after several years.
You may be tempted to choose the native option and opt for native Australian red cedar—don't. Not only is the Australian red cedar ineffective at repelling moths, it actually produces a scent that attracts the cedar tip moth. This moth is a powerful burrower, and is capable of damaging both your clothing and the wood itself. Learn more about your options by contacting companies like Pinoy Cabinets.