The damage that moths cause to clothing and furnishings places them among the most destructive of domestic pests.
To be completely accurate, however, it is not the adult moth but rather its larvae that cause the damage.
The moth larvae, which is worm-like in appearance and measures no more than two centimetres, naturally requires nutrition during its development.
Clothes moths obtain this necessary nutrition from the protein keratin, something which is present in natural fabrics and fibres such as hair, fur, wool, cotton, silk, carpeting, feathers and leather. Bearing this in mind, to avoid a moth infestation particular care should be taken when packing away clothing. If moth larvae have no substrate on which to feed, they are unlikely to survive.
The Moth Lifecycle
Larvae leave their food source and go in search of a dark crevice when they are ready to pupate. Pupation takes approximately a week during the summer and up to a month during the winter.
Within just a few weeks of a moth laying an egg, dozens of larvae can be eating your clothes and furnishings. These eggs can be laying their own eggs within six months, allowing just a short time for detection before one moth becomes an infestation.
Identifying a Moth Infestation
These traps won't attract all types of clothes moth but are a good starting point. It is important to check for moth infestations on a regular basis and particularly before packing away seasonal clothing. The eggs and larvae of clothes moths are even more difficult to find than the adults, though cocoon-like cases or silky webbing can sometimes be found on clothing or soft furnishings.
A magnifying glass and a good torch are essential tools when searching for traces of the insect. Unfortunately, it is often the damage that is spotted first. Common clothes moth adults, straw-coloured with plain wings and six to eight millimetres in length, are normally seen crawling and moving slowly rather than flying.
Case bearing clothes moths are dark in colour, similar in length to the common moth and normally have three faint spots on each wing. The brown house moths are larger, up to 14 millimetres long, are brown in colour and have three or four spots on their wings. The white-shouldered house moth has a white head and dark mottled wings and is less damaging to textiles than the other moth varieties.
Various chemical measures, including crystals, flakes and mothballs, can be used to protect clothing, but you should ensure that any chemical-based products are suitable for use in your home, particularly if there are children or pets around. Our experts will be able to provide suitable advice.
Airtight containers and bags are the best form of storage to prevent clothes from becoming hosts to the moth larvae. The essential oils of some timbers (such as cedar or juniper) are thought to deter moths, but wooden furniture looses this preventive effect after just a few years. Lavender and other natural oils are also thought to help, but they are unlikely to prevent infestations. Humid closets should also be avoided. Consider having expensive suits and dresses dry-cleaned and moth-proofed professionally before packing them away.
It is difficult to stop moths from entering your home through windows or doors. Drawing the curtains at night may help, but this is unlikely to be a fool-proof prevention method. Moths particularly like to lay their eggs in areas which won't be disturbed. Spare bedrooms are a particular high-risk area. Moths are also attracted to attics. Regular vacuuming under beds, in closets, behind radiators and under furniture can be effective in preventing infestations.
If you have a moth problem then our professional pest controllers will be able to help you.
Control of Moth Infestations
If you do find eggs, larvae or adult clothes moths, or notice that your clothing has been damaged by the juvenile insects, take immediate action.
Washing woollen clothing in hot water can be effective in killing eggs and larvae.
Any garment that cannot cope with warm water should be dry-cleaned.
Cooling or heating the clothing may also kill the offenders.
Persistent infestations may require the services of a professional pest controller.
Our trained and certified staff offer a variety of solutions to get rid of your moths safely and quickly.
Don't wait to find moth damage in your clothes before you look for moth infestations.
Always clean clothing thoroughly before packing it away.
Store it in airtight bags or containers and keep it away from humid areas.
Take particular care of items which are made of natural fibres, including wool, silk and cotton.
Vacuum regularly and be aware of the signs of cloths moths and their larvae.
Take particular care with mothballs and if the moths and their larvae become a persistent problem, you can call in the services of our professional pest controllers on: 0800 158 3885 or by filling in our Quick Contact Form.