How to get rid of clothes moths

 Adult (webbing) clothes moth

Adult (webbing) clothes moth

The changing of the season brings on a change in your wardrobe….. and all over the country there are cries of anguish as small holes are found in favorite jumpers, shirts, skirts and trousers. Perhaps the most likely culprits are clothes moths!

Clothes moths thrive in the coastal areas of Australia where the warm, humid climate aids their development, but they are found across Australia. The adults are poor flyers and tend to hide in undisturbed dark places – wardrobes where you store your clothes are ideal! They will eat a wide range of animal fabrics such as wool, silk and leather. Clothes moths may be seen flying away from stored clothes when disturbed, but it is actually their larvae or caterpillars that do the damage.

 "Naked" larvae outside its webbing or case

"Naked" larvae outside its webbing or case

There are two different types of clothes moth, the webbing clothes moth and case making clothes month. The webbing clothes moth larvae hides under layers of web like material when feeding. The webbing picks up droppings and pieces of fabric making it very hard to see. When they move to a new feeding site, they leave the webbing behind. In contrast the case-making clothes moth make themselves a case made of silk which they take with them wherever they go. Again these can be hard to spot as they also pick up debris, making them very well camouflaged. 

There is no particular clothes moth season, as the moths live indoors. However, temperature does impact the speed of development (and therefore the size of their appetite!), with warmer temperatures speeding up their life-cycle. As such you need to be on guard against clothes moths year round.

Prevention tips:

  • Regularly vaccum all carpeted rooms, especially in undisturbed areas, such as under heavy furniture
  • Move or inspect under heavy furniture in carpeted rooms for signs of damage / insect activity
  • At the end of each season, wash and store clothes that will not be used for a while in sealed bags or suitcases. The inclusion of “moth balls” can be a good idea.
  • Wardrobes and drawers can be treated with an insecticide spray labeled for clothes moths. Make sure clothes are removed before spraying and wait until the treatment has dried before returning the clothes.

What should you do if you have an infestation?

  • Inspect all wardrobes, drawers, carpeted rooms and curtains for signs of insect activity and damage. Treat all affected areas with an insecticide spray (aerosol or pump pack), focusing on areas where damage was noted and under furniture in carpeted rooms.
  • Wardrobes and drawers should be treated as per prevention tips.
  • Clothes from infested areas that are not damaged and you want to keep, should be placed in a sealed plastic bag and placed in the sun for 1-2 hours. The heat will kill the larvae and eggs. The clothes can then be washed. Delicate clothing should be inspected individually rather than being exposed to heat.

Of course the holes in your clothes may not be caused by clothes moths. Silverfish or even carpet beetles are also happy to feast in your wardrobe! But don’t worry, these treatment steps will work on these critters as well. But if you regularly apply the prevention tips, favorite clothes should re-appear for the new season as “good as new”!

For information on clothes moths products please visit our clothes moth page on our website.