Tag Archives: moth larvae

What time of year do Moths attack clothes?

Every year, thousands of people across the country are disappointed, and sometimes shocked, to discover that moths have eaten holes in their precious garments and textiles.

Almost all natural fibres used in the production of clothes, bedding and furnishings are at risk of becoming a meal for the almost invisible caterpillars of the Common Clothes Moth (tineola bisselliella).

It’s easy to assume that summer is the time of year when moths attack clothes. However, this is a mistaken impression, formed because moth damage is often discovered as the cooler days of autumn lead us to open wardrobes that have been closed up for months.

While moth larvae, or caterpillars, are more active when the weather is warm and moist, they can feed all year round.

Protecting your clothes from attacks by moths

Clothes moths prefer to lay their eggs in dark, quiet places. That’s why you find them in wardrobes, drawers and lofts which remain undisturbed for days, even weeks. Unfortunately, these are also the places where you are most likely to store your unused clothing and special occasion wear.

They also lay their eggs on the underside of carpets and rugs because, again, these are dark and undisturbed locations.

Regularly lifting and beating rugs, airing wardrobes and vacuuming around the edge of carpets will help deter moths from settling in to breed.

It’s their young, the tiny caterpillars, who do the damage. The eggs will hatch in any temperature above 10 degrees Celsius and the minute larvae will start to eat their way into the nearest natural fibres including silk, fur, wool, cotton and linen.

They prefer dirty fibres, such as carpets or clothing with stains or dirt. Washing clothes and bedding before putting them into storage will reduce the risk of them becoming a meal.

The moth larvae can feast for months before turning into the next generation of adult insects and laying new batches of eggs.

Pest control products to protect clothes from moth attacks

Lavender is a traditional remedy for clothes moths and it works by giving off a strong odour which prevents adult male moths from finding females. Modern pheromone traps use the same principle, but go a step further by killing the moth.

Other Moth Control solutions include sprays, sticky rollers for removing caterpillars and devices which create a fine mist in an area infected by moths.

The effectiveness of any product will be determined partly by the way in which it is applied, and by the level of moth infestation. If you discover a large population which is doing significant damage to furnishings and clothes, spot solutions are unlikely to be effective. In these cases, fumigation, by a pest control specialist, is likely to be the most cost-effective answer to your problem.

The time of year when moths attack clothes depends, at least in part, on when and how you choose to store your unused or out-of-season wear, and the extent to which your preparations include moth pest controls.

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Tips for avoiding clothes Moths

As winter blossoms into spring, you’ll begin to reacquaint yourself with lighter clothes you put away months ago. However, opening the wardrobe doors may reveal more than just the garments you put away last year. It’s possible that your hangers supplied ready meals to a host of hungry clothes moths.

The Victorians knew all about avoiding clothes moths but the rise of man-made fibres saw their numbers steadily decline in the last century. That trend is reversing and moths are again becoming a common pest.

The damage is done by the moth larvae, which feed on clothes and carpets. By the time you spot the golden flutter of the adult moth, it’s too late; they’ve feasted on your fabrics.

Here are our tips for avoiding clothes moths.

1. Know the signs. Small moths are found in every home but not all are clothes moths. If you’re on the lookout for the pests, keep your eyes open for tiny larvae, the moth caterpillars which look like small maggots. Also watch for small silken tubes or cases and the silk cocoons where they turn into moths.

2. Regularly freshen up areas where clothes are stored. Clothes moths prefer dark, undisturbed places. Infrequently opened wardrobes, suitcases of old clothes in the loft and rarely cleaned fabric on furniture are their favourite haunts. Store fabrics in plastic bags and give the darkest corners an occasional clean to reduce the risk of Moth Infestation.

3. Keep fabrics clean, especially if they are to be stored. Moths prefer to feed on dirty textiles, so washing clothing and other fabrics before putting them into store will help keep the pests away.

4. Vacuum regularly. Carpets are particular favourites for clothes moths, especially handmade rugs. The caterpillars live underneath, where it’s dark, and do their damage unseen. They can also live under skirting boards, where household debris gathers and provides plenty to eat.

5. Use repellents. Moth balls, popular with past generations, are reappearing in homes across London and the country. Moth repellent fabric protector sprays are also available, which are applied directly to textiles, rendering them unpleasant to pests.

6. Trap the moths. If you have a clothes moth problem, a trap will help you to collect the adults and reduce the chance of them breeding. These are typically baited with pheromones which attract the moths to sticky surfaces, where they become trapped.

Take care to buy the right type of trap, as not all are designed for indoor, domestic use. Moth enthusiasts and gardeners also trap the insects and the devices they use are different.

7. Call in a pest control professional. If you have a serious problem with clothes moths, or they keep coming back, you may need the assistance of a pest controller. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about – the Westminster headquarters of Defra were closed for a day last year, to deal with an infestation of the common clothes moth.

For reasons no one quite understands, moths are becoming a more common problem in London. By taking simple steps to avoid clothes moths, you can also escape the frustration of damaged clothes and soft furnishings.

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