Clothes moths are not dangerous and won’t affect your health, so on the face of it they aren’t viewed as one of life’s biggest problems. However, recurrent infestations cause enormous expense and left unchecked, clothes moths will destroy not just the odd cashmere jumper here and there but a wardrobe of work suits, winter coats, curtains and carpets. In fact anything that is made from natural material is on the menu.
Replacing the contents of a wardrobe and carpets every year is not a sustainable expense and repeated pest control costs can creep up, so here are some expert tips to help you control clothes moths yourself along with our extensive range of brilliant products.
Tip – Learn what you can about the clothes moth lifecycle. If you understand how to target each phase of its lifecycle you will develop a greater understanding of what products to use and when. Eventually, you will be able to think like a pest controller and every year your clothes moth control tasks will become second nature.
Where do clothes moths come from?
Clothes moths live in the wild and play a valuable part in recycling nutrients like carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus in the ecosystem. When animals die, a whole host of living organisms play a part in their decay, breaking them down and re-using nutrients which are in limited supply and need to be recycled.
First, bacteria, flies and their maggots break down the flesh, leaving bones, cartilage, skin, fur and feathers. These remaining items contain large amounts of a protein called keratin which is difficult for most animals to digest.
A few insects have evolved to be able to break down keratin. These include some species of beetle and moth including clothes moths. We have more details on the various moths here. So clothes moths and their keratin eating friends and relatives are beneficial, and if we didn’t have them there would be partially decomposed carcasses laying around all over the place.
Why do clothes moths eat clothes?
Clothes moths have evolved to feed on the protein keratin found in natural materials. When we bring these materials into our homes it makes sense that clothes moths will follow. Just as flies and ants are attracted into our homes in the summer by the smell of our food, so clothes moths are attracted to the smells of their favourite keratin containing foods; cashmere, wool, fur, silk, leather.
Tip – Avoid attracting clothes moths into your wardrobes by keeping them meticulously clean. Regularly vacuum dust because this is made up of skin cells which clothes moths feed on. Do not put even once worn clothes back in the wardrobe as sweat, skin cells and minute food stains will attract clothes moths.
Are clothes moths seasonal?
The emergence of clothes moths is linked to the seasons, more specifically temperature. Let’s start with the eggs. The eggs hatch into larvae between 4-21 days depending on the temperature. The warmer temperature brings on faster development. The larval phase is the destructive phase as the larva have the mouth parts to chew through fabrics.
Depending on temperature, the larval phase can last from two months in the Summer to 2.5 years if kept in consistently cold temperatures. So, even if you have fabrics in cool conditions all year round, clothes moth larvae could be eating away for all that time!
As Spring temperatures increase, the larvae pupate. This is why you see a flush of adult moths in the Spring and again in late Summer. The adults do not feed as their sole purpose is to produce the next generation. Once mated, a female clothes moth can lay up to 100 eggs so a clothes moth infestation can quickly proliferate.
Tip – As the larvae can remain hidden for so long, protect clothes in storage by putting them away in moth-proof garment bags. Clean clothes by hand if delicate or better still, dry clean before storing them.
How do I stop moths eating my clothes?
Clothes moths prefer quiet, dark places to lay their eggs. This is why wardrobes and carpets or areas under furniture or rugs are popular egg laying sites, because their larvae will hatch and remain hidden away with a bountiful food source. Adult moths are also repelled by the strong scent of certain essential oils.
Tip – Do everything you can to make the breeding sites of clothes moth uncomfortable. This means disturbing them. As well and regular vacuuming inside wardrobes and underneath heavy furniture, take clothes out regularly, shake them and inspect them for signs of moth damage. Store clothes with scented sachets to deter moths from entering your wardrobe. We have an extensive range here
How long does it take to get rid of clothes moths?
There is no concrete answer to this because it depends on so many variables; how heavy the infestation is or whether you eliminate the source of infestation, for example. The bare truth is a pest infestation of any sort needs constant attention and vigilance. Just because you get rid of one rat doesn’t mean there aren’t any more lurking about or that you’ll never get another one. The same rule applies with clothes moths but control can be achieved with multiple measures and perseverance.
Tip – Target each phase of the clothes moth infestation throughout the year. Start by finding out where your infestation is coming from with moth boxes. Deep clean and throw away thoroughly infested items. Treat rooms and wardrobes if necessary with a natural moth killer. Here’s how: use the moth decoy as a permanent fixture to disrupt the mating cycle. Find out more with our Locate, Eliminate and Confuse eradication plan.