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How to Treat Spanish Moss for Bugs

ibis in cypress image by Stacey Lynn Payne from

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.

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.

Place Spanish moss into a stock pot.

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

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

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

Place a colander into the bottom of a sink.

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.

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

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.

Kill Red Bugs In Spanish Moss

Spanish moss hangs from tree limbs and thrives in the Southeastern United States. The plant is actually not a moss, but a bromeliad, which makes Spanish moss a distant relative of the pineapple. When working with fresh Spanish moss, you must take precautions because it can harbor red bugs. Red bug bites can cause severe itching and swelling. Wear protective gloves and long sleeves to prevent bugs from getting onto your skin. Cut the Spanish moss into small sections to be either boiled or microwaved. Bring to a boil and boil for a few seconds, then empty contents into a colander.

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