Know your enemy
Before we look at how to get rid of clothes and carpet moths, let’s look at they are. Let me introduce you to two species of clothes and carpet moths you may not have become acquainted with. If you have been unlucky enough to have them invade your home you are aware of the damage they can cause. They are the case-bearing carpet moth, Tineapellionella and the better known common clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella.
They live outdoors in birds’ nests and on discarded fur or animal skin, but they have become most acclimatized to our modern, centrally heated homes, where they will happily munch their way inconspicuously through carpets and clothes at a remarkable rate.
Both adults are small, dull, and grey-fawn coloured although the common clothes moth has a golden sheen, the other more silvery-grey. They scuttle around rather than fly, but they do fly, in through open windows and doors.
Once inside in the warm they can reproduce rapidly. Eggs are laid in dark areas on fur, feathers, skin, wool or silk. The larvae, which cause the damage, hatch and spin webbing as they grow. The common clothes moth larvae spin silk as sheets of webbing across the material they are eating.
The case-bearing clothes moth is distinguishable as the larvae weave silken cases to protect themselves. The grub can turn itself around inside and eat at both ends. The cases look like grains of rice and are typically hidden behind furniture and in crevices.
Before you go on the attack
As with most insect pests, preventing entry is practically impossible. However, as these moths frequently inhabit birds’ nests, it is a good idea to remove any from loft spaces or in disused chimneys. This is generally good housekeeping advice as other pests such as beetles and fleas also often originate in birds’ nests.
Regular vacuuming is a great preventative measure. These moths prefer not to be disturbed, so moving furniture and cleaning thoroughly will definitely act as a deterrent.
Make sure you only store CLEAN clothes. Natural textiles soiled with food, perspiration or urine are top of the clothes moth’s wish list.
There are a variety of products available to help get rid of clothes and carpet moths, from sticky papers and pheromone traps to insecticidal sprays and powder. All of these should get rid of the problem, although repeated treatments might be needed.
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Insecticidal sprays such as Insectaclear Strong Insect Killer or Protector C can be applied to crevices in wardrobes and drawers and insecticidal powder such as Residex P applied to carpets and under skirtings.
A smoke bomb is a good starting point to kill all adult moths in a room and then hanging traps in the wardrobe space should offer an effective three-pronged attack.
The Insecto Clothes Moth Trap works by pheromones and attracts the male moth and Rentokil Moth Killer Papers kill all moths, eggs and larvae without any harmful effects on clothes.