A Quick Guide to Identify, Treat and Prevent Clothes Moths

Clothes moths can become a serious pest in the home because their larvae feed on materials such as wool, silk, hair, bristles, feathers and fur. Adult clothing moths do not eat or cause any damage to clothing or fabric. It is solely the larvae which are responsible for this.

You can help prevent clothing moths in your home or business by: 1) educating yourself on where to look for them, 2) how to recognize them, and 3) what actions to take to protect your belongings from them.

If an infestation has already occurred and considerable damage has occurred, contact us to have a pest control inspector properly evaluate and treat the clothing moth infestation.

Clothing Moth Identification

After this short video you will easily be able to identify a clothing moth:

The most common variety of clothing moths present in North America are:

  1. Webbing Clothing Moth (Tineola bisselliella): This is by far the most common of the three moths listed. The webbing clothes moth is generally light yellow in color and has a shiny luster. The hind wings are grey-yellow and both fore and hind wings are fringed with fine hairs. The wings are quite thin and the wing span is between 12-16 mm. The adult moths have a reddish-gold tuft of hair on the top of their heads. The larvae are a dirty yellow with a yellow-brown head and can reach a length of 7-9 mm.
  2. Casemaking Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella): The casemaking clothes moth is a slightly darker brown moth than the clothing moth with the forewings harboring three dark spots, while those of the webbing clothes moth are uniformly golden. The fringe of hairs at the edge of the wing is quite pronounced on close inspection. Casemaking moths are less common than the Webbing Clothing Moth. Caterpillars of this moth feed from within a somewhat flattened silken case which is dragged over the food source.
  3. Tapestry or Carpet Moth (Trichophaga tapetiella): Tapestry moths are similar to clothes moths in appearance and that they spin webbing in areas where they like to reside. Just as in Clothes moths and carpet moths their speed of development depends entirely upon local temperature, humidity and food supplies.

Clothing Moth Treatment

If the infestation is minor some steps you can take before calling a professional include the following:

  • Clothing moth traps: This step can help to prevent males from mating with females.
  • Vaccumming: Since moths like to hide in carpeting and baseboards, this is a very important step towards full eradication.
  • Dry Cleaning: This step kills moths on existing clothing and helps remove moisture from clothes.
  • Exposure to Heat: Extreme high temperatures (120 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes plus). These conditions may possibly be achieved by placing infested materials in an attic, or by washing clothes at or above this temperature.

If these steps are not successful in controlling the moths then call your professional pest control technician. The typical treatment for clothes moths is to apply a permethrin or pyrethyroid based chemical using an aerosol can. In conjuction with this application an insect growth regulator is often used to retard the moths life cycle.

Clothing Moth Prevention

Once the cloths moths have been successfully treated, a good way to prevent them from reoccurring is to add lavender to your wardrobe. For this purpose, lavender bags with dried lavender flowers are put into the wardrobe. Their scent can be refreshed by putting a few drops of lavender oil on them, or a few drops of lavender oil are put on fabric which is then put in the wardrobe. Treat once a month for the first three months and then once a quarter for the next year to ensure the infestation is under control.

You can also go out and purchase commercial mothballs to add to your wardrobe as well. These products however may contain chemicals based on naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene which work by decaying into a gaseous state. The pitfall of mothballs is that they need to be placed in very high concentration to be effective. Hearts Pest Management encourages you to try the natural lavender method of prevention before resorting to moth balls.

 

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