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One of the major repair jobs on old concertinas is moth lavae having eaten a scollop of the padding between the leather and cardboard of the pad.How do these little devils get in and that bit must be exceptionly tasty as it is a common complaint.Even boxed these months seem to get in.Just shows how important the old gauze was over the fretwork that most people remove.

Al

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  • 2 weeks later...
I have often heard tell of the "dreaded concertina moth", but the actual culprits, whenever I have apprehended them (so far), have always been ladybirds !

Interesting. None of the holes I've seen in either pad leather or felt backing has been large enough to accomodate even the smallest of ladybirds ("ladybugs" in some American dialects) that I've seen.

 

On the other hand, I have a couple of times found dead wool moths in concertinas so tasted. I presume they couldn't find their way out.

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Interesting Stephen,I have never seen a Ladybird inside a concertina and like Jim I have only ever found Moths,but I take your point Ladies can be a bit of a pest at times.(Lovely though). ;)

Al

edited to be sexist

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Interesting.  None of the holes I've seen in either pad leather or felt backing has been large enough to accomodate even the smallest of ladybirds ("ladybugs" in some American dialects) that I've seen.

No, I was meaning their larvae, as in Alan's first post.

 

On the other hand, I have a couple of times found dead wool moths  in concertinas so tasted.  I presume they couldn't find their way out.

And on several occasions I have found dead ladybirds, that presumably hadn't been able to find the "EXIT".

 

The mesh, or gauze, inside the fretwork is certainly a good idea, to keep the "critters" (of whatever persuasion) out in the first place.

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Ladybirds are strictly carnivorous, so if you found one in your concertina it was just resting (but not in the sense of Siberian parrots). Their favourite food is aphids. Some beetles have squishy worm-like larvae of totally different diet from their parents, but juvenile ladybirds can be found running up your roses eating aphids, just like mummy. They look a bit like a beetle with the outer cover removed, so you can see all the segments. Ladybirds lay their eggs on plants, not concertinas. If there is a hole in your concertina, and you found a ladybird in it, something else ate it first and the ladybird merely took advantage of it as a place to hide. Or else what you saw wasn't a ladybird.

 

Some of my old bottles of wine suffered from "cork weevils", though fortunately I haven't found any weevilled bottles for a few years now. These blighters eat holes in wine corks, and the wine may spoil if the air seal is broken. They seem to have a particular taste for the most expensive bottles in the cellar. Now a weevil is another kind of beetle, one with a long "nose" (properly called a "rostrum"), and a strict vegetarian habit. Like ladybirds, they can be rather sweet. My friend Nicola used to have a pet leaf weevil called Trumpton, which was a nice metallic green colour - you can find ones just like at this time of year eating the leaves of your fruit trees. Some weevils, for example the acorn weevil, have exceedingly long rostrums, longer than their bodies. I therefore had a picture in my mind of a merry "cork weevil" with a corkscrew shaped rostrum.

 

It therefore came as something of a shock to me to discover that the "cork weevil" is not a weevil at all, but a moth. As you might expect it is the larva that does the nibbling. It is a very small moth, indeed a flightless moth (or maybe just the female is flightless - there are many species of flightless moth, and often science has not managed to work out what kind of moth is the male, as it can look totally different). They are quite small enough to get in through the tiny airholes that are often punched in the top of the capsules of fine wines to allow any escaping wine to evaporate. (There are also many species of "micromoth" far smaller than the night-flying moths we are familiar with, and often confused with other tiny insects.) Plainly cork weevils have been around longer than wine bottles, and their diet is not confined to wine corks. They will also eat the cardboard boxes that wine comes in, if there is some dampness in the storage area.

 

In fact concertina pads seem just like the kind of thing "cork weevils" might like to eat.

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Here in Alabama we have critters that are attracted to the wool used in the construction of various instruments as well as horsehair.

 

We name the bugs after whatever instrument they have just rendered useless.

 

Bowhair bugs

Flute bugs

Concertina bugs

Clarinet/Sax bugs

 

 

I have noted that they afflict instruments that are infrequently used or stored in a quiet closet.

 

I can usually find evidence of them. The leave behind their molted exoskeletons, small rice-shaped tan objects. They also leave evidence of their diet in the form of

"processed" bow hair, pads etc. This compound looks like a dusting of white powder.

 

The critters themselves when caught "in the act" appear as slow moving oval shaped, furry little beasts. They look for all the world like a tine porcupine.

 

When teased with a toothpick they have two little bulbs that inflate and pop out of the front of the bug.

 

I suppose this is an attempt to shock me into fleeing the room in terror.

 

Over the last twenty years of repairing musical instruments, I have come to love and admire this insect for the singular and unselfish way that it works to keep me in business.

 

Bob Tedrow

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I wonder if these ladybirds were there to eat the moth larvae, because I have only ever seen them in concertinas with moth-eaten pads ?

I think you must have struck on the explanation, Stephen.

 

A little research and we discover ladybirds will feed on many small soft juicy insects, insect larvae, insect eggs, etc. The first thing a newly hatched ladybird larva eats is often the unhatched eggs of its siblings. Although most species prefer aphids, a few species specialise on other prey. You can even get special bio-control ladybirds to eat a variety of greenhouse pests in addition to aphids. I also discovered I was wrong to say that they are strictly carnivorous, as if there is nothing else they will eat pollen and soft parts of plants, but don't do very well on it.

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Love and admiration are fine, Bob. Just so you are not breeding them in the back room for release at the next camp or squeeze in!

 

For fiddle bowhair mites we usually put a few mothballs in the case (remove the fiddle; leave the bow) and let it work for a week. Any suggestions for pad eating critters, or the dreaded wood worm?

 

Greg

 

Or as Ivan might suggest, should I stuff my concertina with live, hungry ladybugs?!

Edited by Greg Jowaisas
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Here in Michigan we get infestations of Lady Beetles. The little blighters get into the house in the hundreds every day. When so infected persons have to run around the house sucking them up with hand held vacum cleaners. They get into the room where I store my concertina and other instruments. There they cause havoc by crawling into electronic equipment through the circulation vents and speaker ports by the dozens. They don't seem to be after any prey - just doing it out of pure cussedness. So far they haven't attacked my instruments.

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That's nothing! I have some friends who used to live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and every year their house would become so covered with ladybugs that they literally couldn't see the side of the house. Apparently, in that quantity you discover that ladybugs smell like raw potatoes. Those friends really don't like the smell of raw potatoes any more.

 

Steven

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Interesting discussion here.I am almost sure that what I have found in the past is the little brown moth lavae that eats wool and it is that part of the pad they eat.On rare occasions you find a hole in the leather but it is usually the uneven nature of the pad which causes the air loss.

It would appear to me that some of you in different climate conditions which are ideal for insect breeding and we have yet to mention midges and mosquitos ,gauze on the underside of the fretting is an absolute must.One pull note and you may have trapped a hundred in your bellows, or worse still, in the reeds.

Why am I scratching?

Al

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They don't seem to be after any prey

 

The reason that Ladybirds/Ladybugs are sometimes found inside concertinas is that they pass the winter as adults. The creatures found inside instruments were hibernating and either died there (not all hibernation is successful) or were disturbed in the winter.

 

I have often seen concertian pads and accordion pallets where the felt only has been hollowed out, leaving the leather and card or wood untouched. This is the work of a moth larva, commonly known as the clothes moth. There is at least one species of moth in which the larva eats only wool and will seek out its chosen food with great care. The adult females are able to get through very small spaces, and I would be surprised if cloth under the fretwork would always stop them. They also have a preference for high humidity, and darkness. So a concertina that is stored in a a modern centrally heated home is at low risk, one in a cellar or attic is at high risk, and paradoxically storing it in a box will make it more likely to be the victim of moth attack.

 

There are species of moth that specialise in eating almost any organic material you care to name. There is even a couple of species that are specific to eating beeswax.

 

Theo

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