Managing Clothes Moths in the Home
Capturing the female moth is important in trapping clothes moths. For every female trapped, this could remove 50-100 fertile eggs from your home.
The team of entomologists at Insects Limited has studied clothes moths for many years. Their research has shown that the female clothes moth will fill with eggs within the first 24 hours and spend most of her time on the floor. The male moth will often be found fluttering around the closet or room in search of a female clothes moth.
This is why it is important to place one GreenWay trap on the floor and one on the shelf in the closet or room where wool, fur or other natural fibers are stored.
Traps should be replaced every 2 months or when the trap is full. Each pheromone lure is active for 7-9 weeks after opening. Before opening, store in a cool, dry area.
GreenWay products are non-toxic and traps insects without the use of pesticides.
All GreenWay traps are:
- - Ready-to-use
- - Long-lasting
- - Captures males and females
- - Child and pet safe
About Clothes Moths
With the decreased use of moth-proofing, the incidence of clothing and rugs damaged by the clothes moth has increased significantly in recent years. Fabrics injured by clothes moths have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae. Materials left undisturbed for some time or stored in dark places (such as a closet, attic, or drawer) are most severely injured by these insects. The adults are small and champagne-colored. They can often be seen running over the surface of the infested goods when exposed to light or flying somewhat aimlessly about the houses or closets. Clothing moth larvae feed on wool, hair, feathers, furs, upholstered furniture, taxidermy, occasionally on dead insects and dry dead animals.
- Size: 1/4 inch to 3/8 inch (7-10 mm) in length with a wingspread of about 3/8 inch (10 mm)
- Color – Adult: Clothes moths are small, straw-colored, yellow-tan, or buff-colored insects, with narrow wings fringed with hairs. A tuft of hairs on the head reddish-gold in color.
- Color – Larva: The larva is whitish colored with a brown head.
Life History, Food & Signs of Infestations
Insect Lifestyle: Generally, developmental time for the clothes moth from egg to adult in room temperature with a good food source is approximately 45 days. Mating and egg laying begins almost immediately after adults emerge from the pupa. Adult moths do not feed and die within one month. Female moths can lay up to 57 small, pin-head size, white eggs on or near the fabric, clothing or furnishing they infest.
Food & Feeding: Clothes moth larvae feed on woolens, mohair, feathers, fur, hair, leather, dead insects and dried animal carcasses. Infestations occur in clothing, carpets, rugs, furs, fabrics, blankets, stored wool products, upholstery, mounted animals, piano felts, fish meal, milk powder and brush bristles. The caterpillar may feed on fabrics of vegetable origin or synthetics, if the fabrics are mixed with wool, or may use such materials to construct their cocoons. Synthetics, cottons, and other plant materials are not attacked by the webbing clothes moth larvae unless these items are stained with food or body oils. Although synthetics may be ingested, they cannot be digested.
Signs of infestation: A clothes moth infestation is often detected from damaged fabrics and by the presence of silken webs spun by the larvae, sometimes producing only scattered patches of silk. The webbing clothes moth larva spins silk as a tunnel or sheet of webbing across the attacked material under which it grazes. Damage is accompanied by copious webbing tubes or sheets of which frequently include large amounts of frass, and infestations appear far more 'messy.'
Clothes Moth Management
The key to eliminating clothes moth infestations is to interrupt the life cycle. The immature larvae (caterpillars) are the damaging stage but will not get caught in moth traps. The following recommendations should be followed to successfully remove and prevent moth problems.
Clothes moth larvae and eggs can be quickly killed with high heat. Placing garments on hangers in a closed up car on a very hot, sunny day will eradicate the immature stages. Hanging garments in black plastic bags and hanging in direct sunlight on a hot day can achieve the same results.
Smaller items like woolen socks, mittens, scarves, hats and sweaters can be placed in a tumble dryer (without washing) and exposed to the heat on a high setting for 30 minutes.
Larger items like rugs can be placed over the porch banisters and exposed to the direct sun for a couple of hours then turned over so that all sides get exposed. Beating these rugs will also help dislodge eggs and larvae from the base of the fibers.
Clothes moth larvae and eggs can also be killed with a long exposure to freezing temperatures. Items that you wish to freeze should be wrapped in plastic, frozen in a chest freezer at 0 degrees F or as cold as it can get, removed after three days, allowed to warm up and then frozen again for three days. Garments can be cleaned after that.
A good solution for Spring to Fall storage of furs is to use a cold storage service at a profession furrier or fur store.
Expensive woolen jackets, uniforms, dresses, slacks and garments with ‘dry clean only’ labels should be taken to the dry cleaner.
Upholstered furniture and carpets can be cleaned using a steam cleaner. The hot steam will kill eggs and larvae on contact.
Large rugs should be taken out and cleaned by a professional service. They can put these rugs into large pools with cleaners, have them washed, dried and repaired if damaged. They can provide a thorough job with less effort than attempting to use just a steam cleaner and vacuum.
Damaged or dirty furs should be cleaned by a furrier or fur store with this service. They have the proper cleaning agents and drying equipment to remove perspiration and other spills on the hair and fabric.
Some garments or rugs may show signs of damage (webbing or granular debris). This may be simply removed with a fine brush. This would be an important step after freezing or heating your garments to make them look better. If the garments get damaged in the future, then you will know it is new damage and not the old damage you saw before.
Regular vacuuming of the carpets and rugs including under furniture such as couches can help remove eggs and larvae over time. This keeps the population from accumulating and reduces the chances of damage. A crack and crevice tool to clean out the gaps around the edges of the rooms is extremely effective.
After completing the large amount of cleaning, freezing and heating it would be wise to place all the clothing in ‘garment bags’ then have one side clear and the other side breathable fabric. These will protect and prevent further attacks from moths that may have been missed or reintroduced into the home. Other small items may be placed in sealed bags or tight Tupperware-like containers. Make sure they are sealable on all sides and do not have ‘vents’. You should also be sure that there are no active larvae in these garments or clothing before sealing them up.
Pheromone traps are an excellent tool to capture a lot of moths. After cleaning the home and personal belongings, these traps can help you monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of all your effort. The number of moths should be reduced greatly and perhaps not catch any more after a short period of time. Continue to monitor these areas that had activity to see if there is resurgence or reintroduction.
It is difficult to monitor every location at all times, so a visual inspection (often with a flashlight) is very helpful to see if there is activity under a cabinet or inside a piano, cold air return duct, or other odd location. If you see a moth, you should start looking around immediately to track down the source.