If you notice a moth in your closet, you might not give it much thought. But if you spot holes in your wool garments it’s time to take action!
Realising you have a moth situation on your hands, you will probably be wondering where they came from, how to get rid of them, and how to save the rest of your clothes from their hungry caterpillar larvae. This handy guide will teach you all about controlling moth infestations in your home.
Types of moths
Before you can win the battle against moths, it helps to know your enemy. There are a few different moth species that like to take up residence in homes and wreak havoc.
Clothes moths, as their name suggests, like to munch on fabrics. The two most common species are:
Common Clothes Moth. These moths have golden brown wings and are about 1/3 inch long. The larvae are the ones that cause damage to wool, furs, carpeting, and other natural fabrics as they munch with their tiny jaws. They leave behind messy webs and dark specks of excrement known as “frass.”
Case Bearing Clothes Moth. The larvae of these moths make themselves snug little sleeping bags out of your clothes fibres. They drag these protective cases around as they feed.
Pantry moths invade your food storage areas and can contaminate dried goods with their larvae and messy webs. Watch out for:
Indian Meal Moth. Identifiable by their reddish brown wings, these moths love to eat grains, cereals, nuts, dried fruits and more. Indian meal moths lay lots of eggs that hatch into tiny wormy larvae.
Flour Moths. Flour moths, as you might have guessed, feed on flour and other baking ingredients. They leave behind webbing and excrement in infested food products.
Other household moths
White-Shouldered House Moths. These moths don’t eat fabric but instead feed on dried food sources and organic debris like lint, hair, and dust bunnies.
Now that you know your moth adversaries, let’s take a look at the tell-tale signs so you can identify infestations.
Signs of moth infestations
Make sure you keep an eye out for these common indicators that moths have invaded your home:
Your clothes and other natural fabric items will be riddled with tiny holes. Upon closer inspection, you may find larvae, specks of frass, light webbing and cocoons where moths have been breeding. Ugh! If you spot these signs, you likely have clothes moths snacking on your garments. At this point it’s time to consider expert help and professional moth treatment.
Check any dried food goods for larvae crawling around packages or containers, webbing accumulating in containers or on food, and clumps of larvae excrement. If you find contaminated foods, immediately throw them out in a sealed container so more moths aren’t attracted. Give your pantry a thorough cleaning to get rid of any eggs or larvae.
Look out also for moths flying out of vents when you turn on heating or cooling, and swarms of moths in dark, secluded house areas. Seeing large numbers of household moths usually means you need to do a thorough cleaning of potential nesting sites in your home.
Now that you know what to look for when it comes to moth invaders, time to cover why these pesky insects can be harmful. This will give you some extra motivation to get your home moth-free.
Dangers and health hazards
While moths themselves don’t directly spread disease or pose serious health threats, they can cause other issues if left unchecked.
Some people may experience allergic reactions from touching moth larvae or adults. Reactions can include rashes, hives, blisters and facial swelling. If you suffer any concerning reactions after contact with moths, talk to your doctor. They can provide medication to help manage symptoms that could impact your family.
Moth larvae can cause costly damage as they chew through wool, furs, carpeting, and other prized textiles. Pantry moths can also contaminate a shocking amount of dried goods that ultimately need to be thrown out.
The mess created by moth larvae poses a fire hazard. One study showed that just 1/10th of an ounce of frass dust can fuel a damaging fire. This is just another great reason to get infestations under control.
Hopefully now you understand why sharing your home with moths isn’t ideal, especially if you are focused on raising a healthy family. Now get into some moth control methods to moth-proof your house.
Moth prevention tips
Prevention is way better than cure when it comes to handling moth predicaments. Here’s how to proactively guard against infestations:
Get into the habit of washing or dry cleaning wool and other natural fabric items before storing them away after wearing. The perspiration and oils on worn garments attracts moths.
Place washed items directly into airtight containers or garment bags before putting them back into your closets. This deprives moths of the chance to lay eggs on them.
Periodically take clothing out of storage to air and check for any worrisome signs like larvae or holes. Catching an infestation early makes controlling it much easier.
Hang moth-repellent sachets containing cedar, lavender, rosemary or other herbs in your closets and storage areas. These strong fragrances naturally deter moths.
Use cedar blocks, chips or moth-repellent paper in strategic areas where clothing is stored.
Inspect packages before purchasing dried goods. Check for any webbing, larvae or eggs to make sure products aren’t pre-infested.
Place incoming high-risk products like flour, rice and bird seed into airtight glass, metal or plastic containers. This removes access to the nutrient-rich foods moths seek.
Clean up any spilled grains, cereals or baking ingredients right away – don’t give moths an open food buffet!
Take inventory of your pantry stocks and use up already opened dried goods. Moths often gain access when packages have been open for a while.
Use vacuum attachments to thoroughly and frequently get rid of lint, pet fur, soil and hair inside heat ducts, attics and dark sheltered locations in the home.
Check around and under appliances for forgotten pet food or accumulated organic debris. Make sure to clean everywhere including places that are often forgotten.
Wash rugs, blankets, pet bedding and other textiles prone to collecting hair or dander regularly to discourage nesting sites.
Inspect for mildew spots, moisture or leaks that can breed mould or mildew that moths enjoy snacking on.
Getting rid of an existing moth infestation
When moths have already begun breeding and feeding in your home, stronger measures will be needed to gain control. Here are some ways to tackle existing infestations:
Moth eggs and larvae cannot survive extremes of hot or cold. Washing and drying clothes or other items at the highest heat settings will kill them. For more delicate items, sealing them in bags and popping them in the freezer for a few weeks destroys all life stages.
Traps infused with moth hormones are extremely effective at capturing roving adult moths. These crafty traps lure them in but prevent escape. Use traps anywhere you have observed moths flying about. Attracting the adults prevents mating and further reproduction.
Certain plant-derived insecticidal products are approved for safe use against fabric pests like moths. These usually contain compounds found in chrysanthemums. Always carefully read and precisely follow label directions with any control products to avoid damage to your belongings and health risks. It’s a good idea to you call in an expert exterminator for the best results when using insecticides.
Preventing future infestations
Keep vigilant with these moth control methods to avoid new infestations down the line:
Continue using cedar, essential oils, pheromone traps and vacant space management. Make these moth deterrence strategies part of your regular household routine.
Periodically check clothing, carpets and stored foodstuffs for signs like larvae, nests or faecal specks. Catching an infestation in initial stages makes clearing it out much easier.
Follow sanitation advice such as strong vacuum suction of cracks and crevices, eliminating moisture problems, and removing pet hair and dander. Remember, tidy homes don’t attract moths.
As you’ve now learned, moths may appear harmless, but require some major pest management considerations once they start targetting your home. While moth larvae happily munch their way through clothes, carpets and foodstuffs, causing damage, allergic reactions or fire risks, control is very achievable.
Armed with knowledge of the main moth troublemakers, what attracts them and how to deter their interest, you can now stay one step ahead. Applying preventative and monitoring steps combined with timely professional extermination at the first sign of infestation will undoubtedly protect your belongings and sanity! With a little diligence, you can defend your home from moth invasion for good.