How to control clothes moths
Finding a hole in your favourite piece of clothing is certainly upsetting….. and could be expensive! The most likely culprit for damage to clothes is the clothes moth. Preventing clothes moths causing damage can be achieved by putting in place a number of preventative measures and using products to control clothes moths.
Clothes Moth Identification
What do clothes moths look like?
There are actually two main species of clothes moth, the webbing clothes moth and the case-making clothes moth. Both get their names from the way the larvae protect themselves whilst they are feeding.
Webbing clothes moth
Larvae: Cream coloured larvae with a dark head. Hides under webbing whilst feeding. Webbing picks up droppings and pieces of fabric. When the larvae move to a new feeding site they leave the webbing behind.
Pupa: Webbing clothes moths spin a silken cocoon on the fabric they are feeding.
Adult moths: Light, gold coloured moth less than 1cm long.
Case-making clothes moth:
Larvae: Cream coloured larvae with dark head. The larvae make a case of silk which they take with them wherever they go. They can feed from either end and enlarge it as they grow. As droppings are added to the case, it takes on the colour of the fabric they are feeding on, so can be hard to spot.
Pupae: Case-making clothes moth larvae tend to find a crack or crevice to pupate in.
Adult moths: Darker than the webbing clothes moth with feint dark spots.
Signs of a CLothes moth infestation
Holes in fabrics, clothes and curtains, damage to furniture and bare patches on the edge of carpets in dark, low traffic areas.
Webbing or larval cases in clothes or fabrics.
Moths that fly up or crawl away from dark, secluded areas, when disturbed.
Main pest season
There is no particular pest season for clothes moths as they live indoors. However, the temperature does impact how much they eat and how quickly they progress through their life cycle. In Queensland the life-cycle may be complete in as little as 2 months, but in Tasmania it may take up to 6 months.
Clothes Moth Facts
Generally, clothes moths are more common in the coastal areas of Australia, where the humidity helps their development. The case-making clothes moth prefers warmer parts of Australia, whereas the webbing clothes moth can be found all over Australia.
Clothes moths eat a wide range of animal fabrics, but primarily fabrics containing wool. They will also damage fur, silk, feather and leather.
Clothes moths are poor flyers, likely to be hiding in dark areas near to where the larvae are feeding.
Clothes Moth Prevention Tips
Regularly vacuum all carpeted rooms, especially around the perimeter and under heavy furniture.
Regularly move cupboards and heavy furniture in carpeted rooms. Inspect the carpet for signs of damage and insect activity.
At the end of each season, wash and store clothes in a sealed bag / suitcase.
Clothes Moth Control Tips
If you suspect clothes moths presence / damage in carpets, all affected areas should be sprayed with insecticide (either aerosol or ready to use pump spray), paying particular attention to damaged areas and other areas under furniture.
Items of clothing or curtains suffering damage (or items close stored close by) should be placed in a sealed black plastic bag in the sun for 1-2 hours. This will kill any larvae / eggs. The items can then be washed. Any delicate items that may be impacted by heat should be inspected individually.
Any cupboards which have been sites of cloth moth activity should be treated with an insecticide spray (all shelves and drawers). Items of clothing should be removed before treatment and replaced once the treatment is dry.
PestXpert Clothes Moth Products
PestXpert has a range of products that can be used to treat carpets and storage areas for clothes moths; Pro-Spray flying, Pro-Spray Crawling and Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor. It is recommended that Pro-Spray Flying and Pro-Spray Indoor and Outdoor be the first choices for fabrics as they are water based formulations. However, as with all products, test on a small area of surface or fabric first before spraying a large area.