Clothes Moth Damage

Clothes Moth

Learn how to identify and get rid of clothes moths fast! These proven, organic and natural methods are SAFE and effective for use inside your home.

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Common throughout the United States, the larval stage of clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella) attacks garments, carpets, furs, blankets, upholstery, piano felts, brush bristles and a number of other items.

Note: Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration or urine are most subject to damage. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool.

Damaged fabrics have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae (1/2 inch long) and often have silken threads or tunnels, and fecal pellets over the surface of the materials. Adult moths are about 1/4 inch long with their wings folded and have a wingspread of about 1/2 inch. They are golden-yellow with a satiny sheen and reddish golden hairs on top of the head. Adults avoid light and attempt to hide when disturbed.

Life Cycle

Clothes moths lives 10-28 days, but does not feed. Females lay 40-100 eggs, which generally hatch in 3-21 days. Larvae live 35 days or more and will wander some distance away from their food source to pupate in crevices. The pupal case is silken with bits of fiber and excrement attached to the outside. The life cycle is 65 to 90 days at ordinary household temperatures. Two generations per year.

Control

  • Vacuum cracks, crevices and other breeding areas in floors and closets.
  • Clean fabrics prior to storing and keep in sealed containers. If you cannot place items in sealed containers, use repellents to deter these damaging pests.
  • Pheromone traps are helpful for monitoring the presence of egg laying adults as well as for reducing their numbers. Place traps in closets and storage areas to be protected. Pay special attention to items containing wool, cashmere or other animal hair.
  • Bt-kurstaki (Bt-k) is a highly selective biological pesticide used to manage the larval stage of this pest. Apply every 7- to 10-days where insects are found or suspected. After ingesting a small amount, they stop feeding and die within a few days.
  • Extremely effective against a variety of insects, boric acid is no more toxic to humans and pets than table salt. Sprinkle around cracks and crevices and apply liberally to cabinets and drawer wells.
  • Manage rodents with traps or repellents instead of poisons as inaccessible carcasses can become a source for larvae.
  • If pest levels are intolerable, treat with a fast-acting botanical insecticide. Always follow the instructions on the product label.

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