Clockwise starting left: egg mass, adult, larvae on damaged fabric
Clothes moths were
once more common in homes. During the 1950s and through the 1970s, wool
was treated with long lasting residual insecticides which prevented damage to
natural fibers. However, due to the phasing out of these products, organic
fabrics such as wool are once again susceptible to clothes moths. Thus Clothes
Moths are making
a comeback of sorts.
go through complete metamorphosis: egg, larvae (crawling stage), pupae (cocoon)
and adult (moth). However, it is the larval stage that damages
fabric. Organic materials such as wool, hide, fur, down, etc. contain keratin, a
protein that the Clothes moth and
beetles, another fabric pest, can
larvae are cream colored and grow to up to 1/2" in length. All moth
larvae possess three pair of legs just behind the head, but also have a set of
short, stubby feet behind those legs called prolegs. Prolegs define the
larvae as a moth rather than a beetle.
The moth (adult) is
about 3/8" in length and is the wing color is copper to tan color. Since
the indian meal moth, a pantry pest is the same size, you may want to look at
the photo of the Indian Meal Moth on our Indian Meal Moth web page to be sure that it is not that insect rather than a clothes moth. The indian meal moth is a common food pest.
But because they're most active at night and are phototropic (fly toward light),
they are likely to be found in other rooms which lends confusion to which moth is actually present.
Where To Look for Damage
As the cycle
begins, adults (moths) lay eggs in cracks or crevices near a food source or
sometimes directly on it. When the eggs hatch, the larvae begin to feed on
the fabric, frequently eating areas that have been stained with food or beverages
or that contain body oils, sweat, or urine. This explains why wool carpet or fabric is
often damaged close to where people sit.
Also look for larvae or damage on wool sweaters, natural bristle brushes, fur
(including pet hair) and
other organic fabrics. Clothes moths have been known to damage non organic
fabrics as well, but this is incidental to feeding on nearby animal based fabrics.
Resolving a Clothes Moth Problem
An important component in dealing with a clothes moth infestation is sanitation. Sanitation refers to vacuuming to remove food sources such as pet fur or hair which may keep the moth larvae well fed. In other cases, it may be a matter of removing affected garments and laundering or dry cleaning them. If you have a large number of vulnerable garments, ask the cleaner about a bulk rate for cleaning your clothes rather than paying per article. Note that dry cleaning processes have changed. Find out if their process will kill fabric pest life stages before spending money for dry cleaning of clothes.
Another way to kill insects on affected goods is to place them in a clothes dryer for 20-30 minutes on high if they can tolerate heat without damage to them.
Moth flakes or moth
balls or cakes containing Para dichlorobenzene or naphthalene may be somewhat effective as
repellents, but the odor of these products is obnoxious and they are respiratory
irritants and carcinogenic. Garments may be packed with these products into tightly sealed, heavy duty
plastic bags. An natural alternative to the other two noxious products is lavender which can be purchased in sachets for placement inside of drawers and in closet. However, with the newer plastic totes available that offer
tight fitting lids, it is possible to shield garments from a moth
infestation without repellents.
Permacide P-1, the product that we
offer, are labeled to treat
cracks and crevices for clothes moth larvae. You may apply this product
along the corners of clothes closets and around the edge of shelves, above and
below them. Also
consider treating around baseboard moldings in rooms where carpets have become
affected by clothes moths. In some cases, if carpet is installed over a
hardwood floor, it may be necessary to treat between the floorboards where the
larvae can hide. In addition, a total release indoor fogger such as
Control Plus, may be used rooms to quickly kill flying
moths. You may also use a vacuum cleaner to remove moths (be
sure to throw out the vacuum bag or empty the cup afterward as a precaution).
Three newer products are available for the control of clothes moth larvae:
Bedlam Plus (two insecticides) and
Alpine Dust Insecticide.
Bedlam Plus are effective insecticides for use in cracks and crevice to help kill larvae hiding there while
Alpine Dust Insecticide can be used to treat larger cracks and crevices (such as cracks between floor boards) very effectively because it spreads out well in such areas. However, dust may be an issue for some sites because it remains visible after application. Careful cleanup of any excess using a damp paper towel afterwards can minimize this problem.
Another way to capture mothes is to use
pheromone based insect traps. We sell a
Trap for Clothes Moths which is specific for webbing clothes moths.
Placing these diamond shaped traps in a room or closet with a suspected moth
problem will monitor for insects and help to capture adults. Note
that the lure is for male moths only and may not attract egg laying
females. Larvae active in the area may continue to do damage to animal-based fibers
until they pupate and then later hatch as adults. This is a very
conservative approach and is the least toxic (non toxic) solution, but is unlikely to
solve a clothing moth problem if used alone.
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our line of do-it-yourself pest control solutions. If we have not answered
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