Get to Know More About Clothing Moths - What Do They Like and Where Do They Come From?
Clothes moths are pests that have the most potential to damage fabric and other clothing materials. They feed exclusively on animal fibers, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, and leather. These materials contain keratin, a rich protein source for the worm-like larvae of the clothes moth to digest. (In their natural habitat, the larvae feed on carcasses of birds and mammals.
Synthetic fabrics are rarely attacked unless blended with wool, stains, or body oils. Serious infestations of clothes moths can develop undetected in dwellings and cause irreparable harm to valuable materials. Imagine pulling out your expensive or favorite jacket, coat, and sweater with holes in them. A significant number of households in the U.S. spend thousands of dollars on dry cleaning and replacing damaged items due to clothes moths per year. Clothes moths are small, 1/2-inch moths that are beige or buff-colored. They have narrow wings that are fringed with small hairs. They are often mistaken for pantry moths infesting stored food items in kitchens and pantries. Unlike some other types of moths, clothes moths prefer dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, basements, and attics.
There are two most common types of clothes moth in North America — the webbing clothes moth also known as the common clothes moth (Tineola Bisselliella) and the case-bearing clothes moth also known as case-making (Tinea Pellionella). The adults of these moths are uniform in color, with a small tuft of reddish hairs on the top of the head. The adults of the case-bearing clothes moth, however, have dark specks on their wings. The eggs that these moths lay are about 40-50 pinhead-sized. These larvae will feed on vulnerable substrates, such as fabric, and will eventually hatch into the adult clothing moth.
The larval stage of clothes moths is creamy-white caterpillars that are up to 1/2-inch long. Development time before transforming into a moth varies greatly (from one month to as many as two years). Temperature, food availability and prevention methods are determining factors for the lifecycle duration. Webbing clothes moth larvae spin silken tubes or patches of webbing as they move about on the surface of the infested fabric. They often feed within folds of fabric and other concealed areas. As larvae graze along the surface, threadbare spots occur where fibers are removed at the base.
Unlike the webbing clothes moth, case-making clothes moths practice seldom webbing or cocoons into the materials on which they are feeding. Mostly, the larvae crawl off the item to spin their cocoons in crevices of shelving, or along the juncture of walls and ceilings.
It is important to not mix carpet beetles damage with clothing moths. Both of these insects are unique in their appearances. Clothes moths infestations will mostly appear in our wardrobes, closets, clothing boxes, and chests as these are the darkest places. Infestations on clothing items are the most common as rugs, blankets, and other household items get often vacuumed and cleaned. Clothes moths may also be found infesting upholstered furniture, and in vents and ducts where the larvae may be feeding on lint, shed pet hair, and other bits of debris. Infestations may also originate from bird nests or animal carcasses present in attics, chimneys, or wall cavities.
It is important to inspect clothing closely to determine if it is infested with clothes moths. The primary source may be a wool scarf or fur/felt hat at the back of a closet, an old rug stored in the basement, or an abandoned bird or squirrel nest up in the attic. If larvae are feeding on sensitive materials like woolen and other fabrics, they will prefer to feed in dark and undisturbed areas. When inspecting clothing, pay attention to seams, folds, and creases (e.g. cuffs and collars) where larvae often prefer to feed.
Larvae may be found along and beneath the edges of rugs and carpeting. Use needle-nose pliers to lift the outer edge of the wall-to-wall carpet from the tack strip along the baseboards. Other possible locations include beneath/within upholstered furniture or inside heat ducts and floor vents with accumulations of pet hair and lint. Occasionally, infestations may originate from bird or animal nests in an attic, chimney, or wall cavity.
Are Clothing Moths Harmful?
Clothing moths are not harmful to humans.
However, they are the biggest enemy for your clothes, fabric, and other valuable items at your home.
How to Get Rid of Clothing Moths?
After careful inspection, if you find any infested items or places, please start by deep cleaning the area.
Dry cleaning or laundering the clothes will also kill any eggs or larvae that may be present. What is important is that all your clothes in the wardrobe, boxes, or closet must be laundered or dry-cleaned.
Another option for clothes can be to store them under 0 degrees in a vacuumed pack. Cold storage will kill the larvae.
Vacuuming floors, carpets, and inside heating vents will also remove these pests. Be sure to vacuum along and beneath the edges of carpets, along baseboards, underneath furniture and stored items, and inside closets and quiet areas where clothes moths (as well as carpet beetles) prefer to feed.
However, these precautions are not helpful without additional prevention methods. This is why cheap and effective clothing moth traps are recommended.
Catcher Labs. has developed traps with an enhanced formula for the ultimate solution for clothing moth infestations and prevention. Our traps are designed for bringing an end to existing infestations and preventing further spread at your home. We have developed a special trap placing method "Alpha Matrix" for the highest accuracy and efficiency. While we keep the moths away from your valuable clothes and items, our traps are safe for all humans and pets.