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How to Treat Spanish Moss for Bugs

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How to Treat Spanish Moss for Bugs

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Overview

Because of its prevalence throughout swampland stretching from Florida through Texas, Spanish moss has become emblematic of the south. The plant is actually not a moss, but is instead a bromeliad, which makes Spanish moss distantly related to a pineapple. In the past, Spanish moss has been used as stuffing for furniture, but now the plant is primarily used for decoration or in flower arrangements. If you harvest your own Spanish moss rather than buying it commercially, you may need to kill off the mites and chiggers that infest it before you use it.

Step 1

Put on protective gloves and long-sleeved protective clothing while handling Spanish moss to prevent chiggers--burrowing mites that cause itchy welts--from getting on your skin.

Step 2

Place Spanish moss into a stock pot.

Step 3

Fill the stock pot with water until the moss is completely covered.

Step 4

Put the stock pot onto a stove and set the burner on high.

Step 5

Allow the water to boil. This will kill any bugs within the plant.

Step 6

Place a colander into the bottom of a sink.

Step 7

Pour the contents of the stock pot into the colander to separate the moss and water. Shake the colander over the sink to shake off additional water.

Step 8

Spread out sections of newspaper onto a counter. Spread the moss over the newspaper to dry.

Step 9

Remove protective clothing and scrub your hands and arms with warm, soapy water to knock off any chiggers or mites that may have crawled beneath the protective clothing and onto your skin.

Things You'll Need

  • Protective gloves
  • Protective clothing
  • Stock pot
  • Water
  • Colander
  • Newspaper
  • Soap
  • Cleaning cloth

References

  • National Park Service: Timucuan Ecological and Historic Preserve & Fort Caroline National Memorial What is that Gray Hair-like Material in the Trees?
  • Floridata:Tillandsia Usneoides
  • USDA:Spanish Moss

Who Can Help

  • University of Florida:What's That in my Tree?
Keywords: spanish moss, floral decorating, pest control

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."