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Let US Rid Bowbugs Forever in 2018
Idea to use forum members in an experiment to formulate a rosin to deter bowbugs from deteriorating bow hair.
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Irv
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December 24, 2017 - 6:27 pm
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My ignorance of violin playing is large, since I have just begun to study.  I have a rather large knowledge of insects.  As such, it came as a shock to me to learn by reading forum posts that the common carpet beetle (aka "bow bug") is a problem with bow hair. 

I propose that forum members help me conduct an experiment on using various percentages of Boric Acid (perhaps 0.5% to 2% by weight in quarterly increments) in a commercially available rosin to determine if the addition causes any deterioration in the performance of the rosin and if the instrument is harmed.  The rosin should either be applied to a new bow or one that has been previous cleaned with alcohol.  It would be best if the experiment were "double blind" with a minimum of about 20 individuals per Boric Acid increment and another 20 with no rosin additions (for a total of about 100).  Each test individual would use the rosin for a year and take 4 quarterly questionnaires (assuming that they did not have a problem with the rosin either in performance or instrument harm).  No idea yet on how to obtain the base rosin material, but it would be rather easy for me to formulate it with the Boric Acid.  Kick Start?

Effectiveness of the material on carpet beetles could be done by either a State Agricultural Experiment Station or by a University Entomology Department.  All they would need would be a cake of rosin of each Boric Acid increment and some horse hair.  Believe me, they already have the carpet beetles.

I already did an internet search on the subject and found no hits, so I think that this is "new" science.

Do I have any interest in the community for this?      

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newbie-Ron
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December 24, 2017 - 6:33 pm
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I thought that the hair only gets eaten if the bow is left in the case, and the case stays closed for a long period (and vacuuming out the case periodically can help to keep it clean).

I leave my violin and bow out on a stand, so haven’t had that problem.

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AndrewH
Sacramento, California
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December 24, 2017 - 6:52 pm
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There's no real need for a rosin of that type because, if you're applying rosin regularly, it means the case is open regularly and you're not going to have bow bugs in the first place.

And even if you leave your case closed for months, as long as it's more than a couple feet above the floor, you're also not going to get bow bugs.

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Ferenc Simon
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December 25, 2017 - 8:10 am
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I've never heard of the term 'bow bug', but I doubt any insect would be happily chewing through bow-hair that is rosined, since rosin is made of natural resin, which if memory serves is a natural insect-repellent and part of the trees defense mechanism... so usually not the favorite of insects. So when the bow is actually properly rosined there's not much to eat there except for rosin... 

However I could imagine bow-hair that's not used (like the examples, with the bow kept in the case for a years) and not well-rosined being damaged by them, however when used, bow-hair actually smooths out over time and rosin simply won't stick to it properly, that's why bows need a re-hair at least once a year depending on usage.

What I'm trying to get at here is that if an actual bow is in use and played with, most likely it will need a re-hair way before insects would actually get a chance to ruin it, so I don't think the boric acid infused rosin would pick up, but then again you never know 🙂 

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damfino
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December 25, 2017 - 9:32 am
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First, welcome to the forum, Irv 🙂

I think constantly adding alcohol to your bow hair would do more damage than a bow bug could on a regularly used bow. From what I understand bow bug usually attack bows that are sitting unused in a dark place, so as long as you are playing fairly regularly, you don't have to worry about your bow hair getting bugs 🙂

If you're really worried, stick a little cedar block somewhere in your case, that's what I do to keep bugs away from my wool yarn I have around for knitting and that has kept it safe, but even with wool the same rule applies, as long as it's regularly gone through or used bugs won't set up shop eating it.

bug-1_gifbug-1_gifbug-1_gif

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Ferenc Simon
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December 25, 2017 - 10:24 am
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lol @damfino if you wouldn't have put 3 of them... I'd be tempted to squash them 😀 

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damfino
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December 25, 2017 - 10:52 am
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Haha, don't break your screen 😉 

bug-1_gif

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Fiddlerman
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December 26, 2017 - 10:18 am
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damfino said .........I think constantly adding alcohol to your bow hair would do more damage than a bow bug could on a regularly used bow. 

Not to mention that it could hard it would be to play with a drunk bow or worse, increasing chances of turning your bow into a bowaholic...... 

I know, terrible..... pie_in_the_face-2223facepalm

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but the one who needs the least."

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Ferenc Simon
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December 26, 2017 - 10:20 am
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Fiddlerman said

damfino said .........I think constantly adding alcohol to your bow hair would do more damage than a bow bug could on a regularly used bow. 

Not to mention that it could hard it would be to play with a drunk bow or worse, increasing chances of turning your bow into a bowaholic...... 

I know, terrible..... pie_in_the_face-2223facepalm  

Loool 😀 actually, quite a good one haha (Edit: plus imagine all the drunk bugs afterwards)

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damfino
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December 26, 2017 - 10:27 am
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Fiddlerman said

damfino said .........I think constantly adding alcohol to your bow hair would do more damage than a bow bug could on a regularly used bow. 

Not to mention that it could hard it would be to play with a drunk bow or worse, increasing chances of turning your bow into a bowaholic...... 

I know, terrible..... pie_in_the_face-2223facepalm  

LOL smiley_lol_extrem__animated__by_mondspeer-d7194hs.gif

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Irv
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December 26, 2017 - 5:21 pm
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I think that bow bugs are going to do well in 2018 indeed (and there after) with the above responses.  A few points.

Ferenc Simon mentioned a natural insect protection inherent in softwood resin.  I will investigate this, but I do know that hardwood sap (think maple syrup) is very high in carbohydrates (sugars).  Since the purpose of resin is to store the photosynthetic produced energy from the needles, it would seem that the make up of rosin would be mostly carbohydrates.  Since hair is largely composed of protein, it may well be that the bow bugs are eating the rosin caked onto the hair, and damaging the hair as a result.

Damfino mentioned the use of alcohol.  I believe that the standard method of preparing bow hair to receive a new type of rosin is to first bath the hair in alcohol.  Please correct me if I am in error on this point.  This would be a one time only application.

In thinking over the experiment, effort and money would be saved if only 1% and 2% boric acid additions were made to the rosin.  If the rosin samples were forwarded to sample members, only 3 cakes of rosin would be needed in total.  Questionnaires could be made electronically every week for 6 weeks. 

If wisdom were offered me with the proviso that I should keep it shut up and refrain from declaring it, I should refuse.  There’s no delight in owning anything unshared.  —Seneca

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AndrewH
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December 26, 2017 - 5:48 pm
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The problem is that even your control group (if you have one) would not have bow bug problems. Any case that is opened regularly will never get them. For that matter, leave a case closed for six weeks, and the chance of damaged bow hair is still minimal. You have to leave the instrument case closed for months to see any effect.

That's why I think a repellent rosin is not going to be helpful. It's targeted to the wrong people, i.e. people who actually play their instruments. The people who have problems with bow bugs are the ones who don't open their case for months or years.

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damfino
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December 26, 2017 - 6:18 pm
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AndrewH said
The problem is that even your control group (if you have one) would not have bow bug problems. Any case that is opened regularly will never get them. For that matter, leave a case closed for six weeks, and the chance of damaged bow hair is still minimal. You have to leave the instrument case closed for months to see any effect.
That's why I think a repellent rosin is not going to be helpful. It's targeted to the wrong people, i.e. people who actually play their instruments. The people who have problems with bow bugs are the ones who don't open their case for months or years.  

^^ Exactly what Andrew said. They are along the lines of moths attacking wool.... leave it alone unused for several months in a dark closet and you might get some bugs setting up shop, but if you open your case really often to play your instrument, you'll be fine.

I haven't played long, just reaching 2 1/2 years. I regularly use all my bows and have never worried about bow bugs and don't foresee a time I'd have to worry about them. 

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AndrewH
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December 26, 2017 - 7:59 pm
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And, as I mentioned before: carpet beetles stay close to the floor. If you have an instrument that you're not going to play for a long time, it'll be fine if you store it high above the floor.

I mainly play viola, and have a violin that routinely goes 6 months or more at a time without being played. I keep my violin on top of a tall bookcase. It's never had bow bugs in the 8 years since I started keeping it up high, even though it went over a year without the case being opened at one point.

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