Sometimes, clothes moth infestations are so bad that it doesn’t seem to matter what you do they just keep coming back. If this is the case for you, it’s unlikely to be because of an introduction of a new infestation each time, it’s most likely that the original source of the infestation hasn’t been located or completely cleared.
Some of you may have gone to the lengths of having your house fumigated and all your wool carpets replaced for synthetic ones, but your moths have returned within a year, or you live in fear of them returning. For those of you living in apartments it can be particularly disheartening because you do your bit, but to no avail. That’s because the building needs to be treated as a whole which is very difficult to co-ordinate.
We have numerous products that work in different ways, but this blog is going to focus on what to do to get rid of a stubborn clothes moth infestation and follows the principles of Integrated Pest Management that professional conservators use. Let’s not forget these people dedicate their working lives to protecting priceless artefacts in our historic buildings, so they know what they’re doing.
Locate – The Moth Box
The first step is to locate the source of the infestation. Place a moth box in each room. They will be your eyes and ears and will help you pinpoint the infestation if it is not obvious. The Moth Box uses the same pheromone that the female clothes moth uses to attract the male to mate. The pheromone is infused into the glue on a glue board inside the Moth Box so male moths are attracted to the glue and stick!
The pheromone is specific to the Common Clothes Moth so it will only attract the males of that species. It’s odourless and harmless to humans. Place the moth box, one per room, in a dark place where moths are likely to be undisturbed such as underneath wardrobes and beds and keep a record of how many moths each moth box catches every week. Do not put it inside the wardrobe. After a few weeks you’ll have a picture of which box is catching the most and therefore which room is most likely harbouring the source of the infestation. Find out more about our Moth Box here.
Once the moth box has given you an idea of the location, you need to revert to a full-on finger-tip search of the offending room or rooms. For this you will need to set aside a decent amount of time. It may also require some heavy furniture moving so you may need to enlist a strong helper.
Inspect clothes inside wardrobes and cupboards although you are probably already aware if moths are inside the wardrobes as it is most likely that you noticed holes in your clothes first. You are looking for white webbing (a bit like messed up cobwebs) and frass and you may even find clothes moth larvae. Inspect carpets, especially round the edges, check rugs including the undersides and under bits of furniture. Any soft furnishing that have fabric undersides such as foot stools or sofas need to be tipped up and checked underneath and the backs of curtains. The ruffles at the top of curtains can be a sneaky hiding place for moths.
Bear in mind that the source of infestation could be in places that are difficult to see and reach such as in between or underneath floorboards and air heating ventilation ducts where dust, skin cells and hair gather and act as a perfect food source for the larvae. Even old nests or carcasses of dead birds trapped in disused chimney breasts can be a source, this is more common in older buildings and certainly somewhere that conservators in historic building keep a watchful eye.
Eliminate – The Chrysanthemum Spray
If you find that carpets, rugs and sofas are completely infested, you may have to take the difficult decision to throw them out. If moth signs are not entirely visible, then a good vacuum of the carpets and inside wardrobes and between floorboards if they are exposed. Then treat the room with our Chrysanthemum Spray. The formula uses natural pyrethrum extracted from Chrysanthemum flowers and is infused with our signature May Chang essential oil blend. It kills the adult moths, eggs and larvae on contact. Close all the doors and windows and draw the curtains, open the wardrobe doors and spray around the room on the walls, on carpets underneath furniture. Close the door and leave for four hours. Then open the doors and windows and leave the room to air for another four hours after which you can start using the room again. Find out about our Chrysanthemum Spray here.
Confuse – The Decoy
Your hard work is complete, now all you have to do is deploy the Moth Decoy. This is a clever product, unique to us, which confuses the mating cycle of the clothes moth for long-term suppression. It is made of wax powder which is impregnated with the same pheromone that is used in the Moth Box. The powder is compressed into a tablet which attracts male clothes moths, however, that is where the similarity to the moth box ends. The wax powder particles stick to insects, so when a male moth is attracted to the tablet by the pheromone, he unwittingly picks up pheromone laced powder particles on his body. The pheromone in the powder overwhelms him and he cannot detect genuine female clothes moths, so he cannot mate. He also becomes attractive to other males and this further confusion disrupts the mating cycle. Reduced mating means reduced numbers of eggs and larvae. The pheromone tablet needs replacing every 3 months so if you sign up for a subscription, you will receive a replacement in the post to remind you.
The Decoy is your long-term solution because any remaining adult clothes moth that emerge will be taken out of the mating cycle. In large rooms, you should continue to use the Decoy alongside the Moth Box but ensure that you keep them a minimum of 5 metres apart so that the pheromone from each does not compete with the other. The Decoy can be placed on a chest of draws or bedside table, not too high because male moths are not strong flyers and not inside the wardrobe.
The Decoy was developed and prototyped in large museums and historic houses that were struggling with Clothes moth infestations where the countries irreplaceable treasures where at stake. Because these buildings are open to the public, closing them or sections of them to the public to enable fumigation was not an option. Consequently, The Decoy is purposefully inconspicuous, safe to use (it’s made of a natural wax powder) and works continuously in the background, 24 hours a day 7 days a week to protect your home from clothes moth. See The Decoy here.
If you have any questions about our fully Integrated approach, ‘Locate, Eliminate, Confuse’, please do not hesitate to contact us by email or phone, we would be happy to help you.