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.