What to do About Bow Bugs

By: Benning Violins-Studio City Music  08/09/2014
Keywords: Musical Instrument, Musical Instrument Repair, String Instruments

Bugs that attack violin, viola and cello bows are a nuisance but a simple problem to treat and prevent.

If you play violin or viola or cello long enough it will eventually happen. You will open your case and retrieve your bow. And even though you know for sure that you have been properly caring for and maintaining your bow, several hairs on your bow are broken off and hanging loose. This is a sure sign that you have a case of the bow bugs.

That is, your violin, viola or cello case is infected with an actual bug that is feeding on your bow hair. Also named "bow mites" and "carpet beetles", these bugs are common in homes. When the home in question has a violin case on the premises, it's likely that the bow bug is going to find that case and move in. Why? Because it thrives in dark, unventilated places and it finds the hairs on a bow a delicious feast.

The presence of bow bugs are less of a sign of uncleanliness and much more of a sign that you haven't been playing and practicing enough! They’ve exposed you! Bow bugs tend to be present in cases where the inside of the case hasn't seen the light of day for long periods of time.

Bow bugs attack violin bows, as well as the bows of violas and cellos alike. It does not discriminate. If more than a few bow hairs have been eaten, the best thing to do is to take your bow to a professional violin shop to be re-haired. Do not only bring the bow. Take the case with you. Most violin shops will be able to do a thorough cleaning and disinfecting of the case for you for a reasonable price. They will also check the instrument and bow for the presence of live bugs.

If there is no professional shop nearby, you'll have to take care of the problem yourself. You can accomplish this by using the fine, narrow attachments on your home vacuum. Start by vacuuming your case, including all compartments as well as the top of the case where the bows are stored. Follow that up by using a high pressure air duster to blow out any possible bugs, alive or dead, as well as their waste that can accumulate in the case.

Once this is completed, it is advised to open your case - without the instrument or bows inside - and expose it to the bright sun light for a few days or longer. Light is like Kryptonite to bow bugs. The ventilation, too, will help get rid of them. Never … never … use any sort of insect spray repellent in your case or around your bows or instruments.

The instance of bow bugs has less of a chance of occurring with regular practice and playing schedule. It’s a good idea to leave the case open and exposed to light when you play. Perhaps every quarter, make an attempt to remove the instrument and bow from your case and expose it to light four times per year. While one should never spray insect repellent into an instrument case, some mothballs may be helpful, but unnecessary by keeping constant vigil and attention to what is happening in your case.

Keywords: Cellos, Musical Instrument, Musical Instrument And Supplies, Musical Instrument Dealers, Musical Instrument Repair, Musical Instrument Repair Services, String Instruments

Contact Benning Violins-Studio City Music


Print this page

Other news and updates from Benning Violins-Studio City Music


Benning Violins, Los Angeles Violinmakers, Releases Jascha Heifetz Remembrance Video

In a newly released video, violinmaker Hans Benning, patriarch of the violinmaking family, remembers his years maintaining Jascha Heifetz’s 1740


Acclaimed Violinist, Vijay Gupta, Acquires Violin Crafted by Violinmaker Eric Benning

Critically renowned violinist, Vijay Gupta, has acquired a newly crafted violin by violinmaker Eric Benning. The instrument, modeled after a


Los Angeles-based Violin Shop, Benning Violins, Launches new Website

Benning Violins, a preeminent violin shop in Los Angeles, has launched a new, industry-leading website. Launched in April, the state-of-the-art


Distinguished Violinist Tamamo Gibbs Acquires Violin Crafted by Eric Benning, Preeminent Los Angeles

Kansas City Symphony principal second violinist Tamamo Gibbs has acquired a 2005 Stradivarius model violin crafted by renowned violinmaker Eric


Renowned Cellist Mark Gibbs Acquires Cello Crafted by Preeminent Violinmaker Eric Benning

Mark Gibbs, principal cellist of the Kansas City Symphony, has acquired a cello crafted by distinguished Los Angeles violinmaker Eric


Violinmaking: Measuring and Fitting the Neck Piece

When crafting fine violins, as opposed to cheap, mass-produced ones, placing the neck onto the violin body is the most


Violinmaking: Carving the Scroll

The distinctive scroll found at the top of fine violins, violas and cellos is a purely decorative woodcarving that showcases


Violinist Alex Granger Premiers Composer Lucas Floyd's Violin Concerto with Violin Crafted by Violin

On April 27, 2014, violinist Alex Granger premiered American composer Lucas Floyd's violin concerto in San Francisco Conservatory of Music's


Violinmaking: Designing the Sound Holes

The sound holes of stringed instruments such as fine cellos, violas and violins, also known as F-holes, are openings in


Consigning Your Violin: What to Know

When you're looking to sell your fine violin (or a viola or cello), consignment to a notable violin shop may


Dendrochronology and Fine Violins

Dendrochronology is the act of analyzing tree ring patterns in wood in order to determine the wood’s age. Dendrochronology has


Choosing the Tailpiece On a Stringed Instrument

The tailpiece anchors the strings on the bottom end of violins, violas and cellos. As the top of the strings


Standard Tunings for Violins, Violas and Cellos

For the practicing instrumentalist, tuning a violin, viola or cello is a daily task. Located in the peg box towards


The Violin Bass Bar

The bass bar is a piece of wood on the underside of the faceplate or "belly"” of stringed instruments such


Violins, Violas and Cellos: Straightening the Bridge

In time, as violins, violas and cellos are used, tuning the strings on the instrument eventually cause the bridge to