Mites eating bow hairs?

July 6, 2008 at 10:34 PM · My son Michael has had a lot of trouble with violin bows in the past 2 months

leading up to Interlochen. He had to have his $500 Chagas bow rehaired, then

two weeks later he had to have it rehaired and straightened, and then two weeks

later he had to have it rehaired and straightened again. Since he plays at a

fairly high level, and the bow seemed to loose its hairs on the same piece of

music (The Rite of Spring by Stravinsky), we thought that perhaps he was simply

outgrowing his $500 bow and needed a better bow. So we spent 2-3 weeks going

to violin shops all over the Chicago area. We ended up going to 9 different

shops before he bought a $3400 Pfretzchner bow. The next day he went to

Interlochen. That was two weeks ago. Yesterday he called me and said that this

bow is having hair breaking problems. He was pretty upset since his other bow

didn't last even 2 weeks once the hairs started breaking. A fellow student

violinist there asked him is he had a fuzzy lining in his

case, and told him that the same thing had happened to her in the past and they had finally figured out

that mites had infested the violin case, eating the hair and weakening it. She

said that what they did for this was to throughly vacuum the case and that took

care of it. Has anybody else ever had this problem and what took care of it completely for you? Also any ideas on how to prevent it are welcomed.

Replies (8)

July 6, 2008 at 10:37 PM · A number of years ago I had my bow re-haired in the Chicago area. The violin shop owner informed me about "bow bugs" that could cause problems. I hadn't heard of them. A little bit later, I opened my case, and bow hair sprung out from the bow, and I got suspicious. I carefully examined the violin case, and found the culprit. I encased him in clear contact paper, cut around it, so it is just a little packet, and have used it as an illustration to my students. The best thing I would suggest is to carefully examine your case and vacuum it out well. One bow bug can do alot of damage to bow hair!! It just takes one. I haven't had problems since finding the bad bug!!!! Hope this helps. Here's a helpful site:

July 7, 2008 at 01:40 AM · You could put a moth ball in the case or set it out in sunlight for a couple of days. Either/or would do the trick.

July 7, 2008 at 02:44 AM · Vacuum regularly.

July 7, 2008 at 09:50 AM · Putting the case, with bow, in the deep freeze for 24h will kill the mites.

July 7, 2008 at 03:38 PM · Sunlight. Most of the bugs we call "bow mites" don't like sun. Vacuum the case out thoroughly, getting as far into the creases as you can. Leave it open (and empty) to the sunlight for at least 24 hours if not a week. Meanwhile, put the re-haired bow somewhere where there's lots of sunlight, but not in direct sunlight. (You might double check that they're not eating tortoiseshell or horn fittings on the bow itself.)

Apparently, it's just as effective as bug killing powders or sprays.

Ugh, those brown, accordion-creased cases they leave behind them...yuecchhh.

December 13, 2010 at 08:55 PM ·

Bow bugs seem to attack only un-rosined hair near the frog and the tip. Perhaps putting rosin powder or some rosin-alcohol solution in these two areas would help?

December 15, 2010 at 04:09 PM ·

A bowmaker told me that the carpet beetle (for that's what I think it is) will eat the tortoiseshell of a bow frog, too. For some time I kept a mothball in my bow-box and had no trouble. Maybe a cedar-wood ball might do a similar job. The problem seems to affect bows kept shut away for some time, so collectors need to be aware.

December 16, 2010 at 08:40 AM ·

Hi John!--

The mental images of a small light shining away in my violin case all night to ward off the bow-bugs had me laughing all afternoon.  Thanks...I needed that.

Maybe they're all huddling in the accessory pocket...behind the rosin...waiting for the battery to die out. :-)


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