Violin Online: Bow Bugs

Are your bow hairs breaking and falling off? Learn a possible reason below.

Violin Bows and Bow Bugs

  1. Has it been a while since you’ve played your violin? If you open your violin case and notice that many of your violin bow hairs are falling off and look like they have been cut, you might have bow bugs.
  2. Bow bugs, also known as bow mites or museum beetles, come from the dermestidae family of beetles. They thrive in dark, dry places such as closed violin cases, and feed on substances such as bow hair.
  3. If you think you have bow bugs, remove your violin and bow from the violin case, thoroughly vacuum the case (especially the cracks and crevices), and leave the case open in indirect sunlight for a few days (leave your violin and bow out of the case during this process). Some individuals have found it helpful to put a few drops of cedar, rosemary or camphor in a compartment of their case after cleaning it, but this a matter of personal preference (the smell bothers some people). If you try this, make sure the oil has dried before putting your violin and bow back in the case.
  4. If your bow hairs are heavily damaged, you should have your bow rehaired, and if your case seems heavily infested, even after you've thoroughly cleaned it, you may need to buy a new violin case.
  5. The easiest way to avoid bow bugs, is to play your violin often. If you know you won’t be playing your violin for an extended period of time, another simple way to avoid bow bugs is to periodically open your violin case and expose your violin bow and case to indirect sunlight for brief periods of time (never leave your violin in direct sunlight or extreme heat or the varnish could melt).

For additional violin and bow care information, visit Violin Instrument Care