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Don’t let clothes moths ruin your summer

Clothes moth

I’m sure everyone has them, but I’ve got Google alerts set up for various different pests and in the last few days I’ve noticed an increase in notifications about clothes moths. News articles entitled things like, “I’m a pest controller and here’s my 70p tip for keeping your home free from clothes moths forever,” don’t exactly inspire faith in a) the claim they are a fully trained professional pest control technician, or b) this is anything other than clickbait and a colossal waste of time.

Having said that, the fact they feel this is a good time to publish content about clothes moths does tie-in with the fact now is the peak time for these and other carpet pests – just look at our pest control top tips page and you’ll find some advice under June. 

So, how do you know if you have a clothes moth problem?

Holes. That’s often the first indication you have a problem with clothes moths. Jumpers, carpets, curtains, rugs, essentially anything made from organic fibres (including animal skin and feathers) are tempting to the larvae of the clothes moth, and it is the larvae you need to be wary of. They are the ones actually damaging your cashmere jumpers, as they are using them for sustenance as they grow and develop. 

You might also see an adult moth. In the UK, the two main species are the common clothes or webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the case-bearing clothes moth (Tinea pellionella). Both belong to the Tineidae family of Lepidoptera which are fungus moths that mainly feed on detritus, fungi and lichens. Both moth types have a similar life cycle.

Adult common clothes moths have golden wings (12-17 mm wingspan) and a head coated with reddish hairs. Their larvae are white with a hardened, brown head capsule and no ocelli (simple eyes). They can reach 13 mm in length. 

The adult case-bearing clothes moth has silver grey-brown coloured wings that are fringed with hairs along the margins. Their wingspan ranges between 9 and 16 mm and their head has grey hairs. The larvae can reach 12 mm in length and look similar to the common clothes moth larvae. The name derives from the fact they spin a tunnel-like case around themselves as they grow, which they carry for camouflage and protection. 

Of course, the problem is, if you are seeing an adult moth then it has already damaged your textiles. 

Where will you find them?

The larvae like warm, dark areas – wardrobes, ornamental curtains, drawers, under sofas and insulated lofts (especially a bird’s nest). Basically, places that are left undisturbed and have a good supply of organic fibres. 

Top tips for a clothes moth-free home 

Here are my six top tips:

  1. Make sure textiles are stored in airtight containers
  2. Check places where you might find clothes moths, e.g., under heavy furniture, every 6 months
  3. Regularly vacuum carpets, rugs, curtains, etc. 
  4. Tumble dry affected textiles on a hot setting for 20 mins (if the label allows)
  5. Or, put the affected textiles in a deep freeze for a few weeks (case study)
  6. Use man-made, wool-free materials if clothes moths are a real problem

Personally, I’ve always found mothballs and lavender have very little effect beyond making things smell nice. I would definitely avoid old mothballs as these often contained a chemical called 1,4-dichlorobenzene which is now considered to be a carcinogen.

Professional pest control technicians have a range of treatments available to help you get rid of a clothes moth problem. They will have the right training to find the infestation, the correct equipment to safely access difficult areas such as roof spaces, effective treatments to deal with the problem and the right PPE to do it all safely. 

Find out more about clothes moths.

We offer a comprehensive range of solutions to help you keep your property pest-free. Call us today on 0800 056 5477 to discuss your requirements.