Hi All,

Just a bit of information to pass along. I recently took a job rebuilding the action of a Chickering Ampico A. This unit was seriously infested with gritters. The damage was so severe that I elected to have it tested by Rutgers Cooperative Extension at Cook College, NJ.

The results follow:


Several insects were identified in the debris from the piano. One drain fly, Psychoda sp., was found. Drain flies are normally found in dark, moist areas and feed on rotted organic matter. A carpet beetle larval case, Anthrenus spp., was found. Carpet beetle larvae feed on the keratin and chitin commonly found in wool, fur, or feathers. Carpet beetle larvae can cause significant damage. The larvae of a brown house moth, Hofmannophila spp., was also identified. The brown house moth is a widespread and versatile pest that also feeds on wool, fur, or feathers. Based on the amount of excrement and silk residue, we feel that the moth is the primary pest involved in the destruction of the piano (action).

Clean all internal parts of the piano. Treat all surfaces with malathion, diazinon, bendiocarb, or pyrethrins. Prevent reinfestation by spreading napthalene or PDB crystals inside the piano. Monitor the house for other infested areas and treat as necessary.

I hope you all enjoyed this tasty treat. Sounds yummy!! The diagnostician, Rich Buckley, said that most of the chemicals he mentioned are available at a Home Depot type store but he warned that I should read the contents and directions carefully before purchasing anything. Naturally, my main concern is for customer safety and then piano suitability.

Also, I should add that I took the action to three pest control companies and the NJ Dept. of Agriculture before being advised to seek professional diagnosis. No one was able to identify the cause of the problem until Rutgers performed the tests on samples they took themselves directly from the action.

In closing, this is a common sight here in New Jersey. I would venture to estimate that 90% of all instruments made before 1930 have some degree of damage. But it's nice to know that throwing some moth flakes into the piano will keep them nasty old moths out.

John A. Tuttle

This page was last revised on March 1, 2004 by John A. Tuttle.

Comments to: John A. Tuttle (Player Piano Technician/Site Owner)

Now Playing: Midi File called Midnight , which was first conceived in September of 96. These tracks are presented in their unedited form exactly as I recorded them on 3/19/97. They need some work for sure but I doubt I'll have the time to do it. If someone wants to do it for me, I'll give them a Special Link at the top of this page for their effort.
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