Cloth Moths – a Gnawing Problem
In recent years we have seen rising numbers of clothes moths due to several reasons. We are experiencing warmer winters, many of us wash clothes at lower temperatures to cut CO2 emissions, and we may have many items of clothing that go unworn for months or years. These are all favourable to the life cycle of the clothes moth.
There are four distinct stages of the clothes moth life cycle. Eggs, larvae, pupa, and adult. The female moth lays between 40-50 eggs on average, although this number can reach as high as 100 eggs over the span of a few days. Moth eggs take 4-10 days to hatch depending on the environment. Newly hatched larvae are attracted to fibres that are rich in keratin to feed on, such as wool, silks, cashmere, fur, feather, and mohair. This is when they can cause a great deal of damage to your carpets, curtains, and clothes. Larvae continue eating until they cocoon. This process can take between 2 months to 2.5 years! When their environment becomes warmer, the larvae will pupate. This stage usually lasts between 8-10 days on average, when the moth will emerge as an adult.
It is important to identify if your damaged textiles are indeed due to clothes moths, as other insects such as carpet beetles.
Adult clothes moths are around 6 to 7mm in length, with pale golden grey-brown coloured wings, which lie folded along their back when resting. Clothes moth wings are narrow, do not have markings, and are fringed with small hairs.
Clothes moth larvae are creamy white with a brown head, and are about 10mm in length.
Clothes moth eggs are creamy white in colour and are about the size of a pinhead, resembling tiny grains of rice.
Clothes Moth Deterrents
Clothes moths and larvae thrive in dark, warm environments and dislike being disturbed. They also enjoy feeding on materials that have any residual food or perspiration. The following advice may help to deter moths:
- Take items from your wardrobe about once a month and give them a shake
- Vacuum carpets regularly and empty vacuum cleaner contents into a bin liner, seal, and place in your outside bin
- Ensure clothes, especially items made from wool, fur, or feathers, are clean before putting them away, and consider keeping them in compression storage bags
- Clean wardrobes and cupboards with vinegar and water
- Lavender bags may be effective at keeping adult clothes moths at bay, however this is not effective on larvae
If you have found items of clothing that have been affected by clothes moths, wash all items at the highest temperature the label recommends, or put into your freezer for several days to kill any eggs.
Time to Call the Pest Control Experts
Once a clothes moth infestation becomes established, they can be difficult to fully eradicate. Eliminating the adult moths can be quite straight forward, but in order to deal with the infestation effectively, the life cycle needs to be broken, with all unhatched eggs and larvae removed. At Avon Pest Control we have access to professional grade insecticides and expert knowledge of pest behaviour, to fully eradicate the problem.
Are Clothes Moths causing You Problems?