My luthier found bowbugs in my case-where did they come from?

February 14, 2008 at 07:04 AM · My luthier contacted me and said she found "bowbugs" eating one of my bows when she was packing it for shipping-I thought she was joking-never heard of them-where did they come from,and how do you keep them away?

Replies (20)

February 14, 2008 at 07:38 AM · Bowbugs eat hair, not bows.

They generate spontaneously from unplayed violins.

Getting rid of them: open the case and leave it exposed to direct summer sumshine. Let it get good and hot. A few days' exposure will take them out. Remember to remove violin and bow first. (I assume it will have been re-haired).

If you don't have summer sun available, I'm told a few weeks in a really cold freezer will also do for them. While there's stuff you might spray into the case that would kill them, it would probably remove the finish from your violin as well.

February 14, 2008 at 01:35 PM · Jay,

Where I live they are a big problem. In Japan there is tatami flooring and people like to sleep on futons and these kinds of bugs love it. That's why futons are hung out in the sun regularly and also hit with a swatter to get them out.One dealer told me though to use moth balls in your case and they go away. I have found kinds that don't have a strong smell and just keep it in one of the small pockets in the case. It won't damage the violin or bow.


February 14, 2008 at 12:30 PM · Some info here...Good luck :)

February 14, 2008 at 12:28 PM · Craig, would you care to share the name of the brand of those moth balls with a fellow gaijin in Tokyo? thanks a lot

February 14, 2008 at 11:30 PM · How do they generate spontaenously?

February 15, 2008 at 12:08 AM · Greetings,

uh oh, Rapheal unleashed the creationist vs. evolution debate. Fortunately it has yet to acquire the dimensions or virulence of the shoulder rest.



February 15, 2008 at 12:17 AM · Raphael---Medieval "Science," from the days when they thought maggots generated spontaneously from "dead meat"--- and then they could see flies generate from the maggots.

Ah - the wonders of observations connected by weak minds!

February 15, 2008 at 01:44 AM · raphael, good question:)

that aside, does leaving the bow out under the direct sunshine once in a while help to UV the little buggers out? for that matter, how about air and sunshine the open case once in a while?

February 15, 2008 at 03:40 PM · I usually leave the bows out,and my cases open on the 2 that I usually play.I am wondering if they were spawned in her shop,or if they migrated there from another customer's case, as she is very busy, has a lot of work.I looked in the other cases, and I didn't see anything.Should I fumigate the house?-or should I use this as a reason to practice more to prevent them from spawning?

February 15, 2008 at 11:19 PM · I've only found them in situations where the critters can multiply undisturbed.

You may ask how something that small can multiply, when it took you to the fourth grade to learn it yourself. This brings us back to spontaneous generation theory. The answer is, of course, Mysterium Fidei. It's a mystery of faith, like believing that the universe spontaneously created itself in the so-called Big Bang.

In all likelihood, bow bugs are dandruff from the Goddess of Music; if her gifts are left lying about unappreciated, they will be returned to their Component Parts, sold to the Chinese, and made into Violin-Shaped Objects.

So practice, if you would not be punished. And sure, air the case out in the sun once in a while.

March 6, 2008 at 05:03 AM · Andrew,

Who knows what people will say about us five hundred years from now? :)

March 8, 2008 at 03:23 PM · "bow bugs" are carpet worms. They are common and sometimes get into violin cases to eat the hair and eventually the violin. The best thing is to get a rehair and a new case and you'll probably never see them again.

March 8, 2008 at 05:42 PM · I know that borax powder will kill fleas (dries them out). Maybe it's worth a shot with bow bugs?

March 11, 2008 at 02:46 PM · Wow I have never heard of this! This concerns me and I wonder, if I had them and didn't know it, what are the chances of them getting into other cases?

My main concern is this: We have three violins in my house ranging from very old to new and from thousands of dollars to just hundreds... My BIGGEST concern with Bow Bugs after just learning about them is, I was given a violin and bow in an old case (they are dated back to the 20's/30's). The bow is not in usable condition but it still has hair. What are chances of this 1) having bugs and 2) if it had them, getting into my case sitting right next to it?

How would I tell if it had bugs? I was going to be bringing it to a luthier when I returned my daughter's violin for a bigger size (we are renting it from a local luthier) -- but it won't be a for a while now. Is there anything I can do to see if I have them in this old violin?

While I'm at it, does anyone have any information on copy of a Joseph Gaurnerius and it was made in Czech (obviously back in the 20's or 30's). I know it's a copy because real Gauarnerius violin's were made in Cremona and there were copies farmed out (good quality at least) from different countries back then. Nonetheless, I'd love to hear any info you might have about it... (You can send me an email so I don't hijack this thread with an off topic!) Thanks!

March 11, 2008 at 03:36 PM · we have to come to terms with the fact that bugs are everywhere from the beginning of time. it is their world that we are living in.

i can understand one should keep violin away from direct sunshine to maintain even moisture, etc, but i think bows should be exposed to UV light often.

March 11, 2008 at 05:21 PM · I am convinced they came from another customer's instrument,they infiltrated my case while I was having my violin's neck reset.I went through all my other cases and found nothing.I usually leave my bows out anyway.

March 11, 2008 at 05:32 PM · Perhaps this will be of help also:

March 11, 2008 at 06:53 PM · I think it might be a good investment to get a small vacuum cleaner. I have a small Oreck vacuum that I use to clean my case once a month. If you do not keep the case clean there is a risk of dust mites.

March 14, 2008 at 12:35 AM · Bow bugs are the same thing as moths that get into wool sweaters. The moths tend to crawl into dark places, such as a neglected violin case under the bed, and lay eggs. These hatch into tiny larvae which eat horsehair and then die. In an old case you often can see dried up husks the size of a pin head.

If you have to store a violin get a plastic bowbag from your local violin shop and seal the bow in it with tape.

Putting whole cloves in the case pocket may prevent a moth infestation, and they smell better than mothballs.

March 14, 2008 at 08:19 AM · Why do the larvae die? Why don't they turn into moths and complete the cycle?

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