When you pull your favorite pair of pants or top out of your closet, the last thing you want to see is a big, ragged hole in what seems to be the worst place for a hole and on that you can not mend. For more background information see our post on holes in my sweaters.
Unfortunately, clothes moths and their voracious offspring have no regard for fashion, other people’s property, or your reluctance to show off your underwear in public. All they know is that they have 40 to 50 babies to feed, and your wardrobe looks tasty.
Sign of a clothes moths infestation:
There are several types of bugs that can cause holes in clothing, so before you spend time trying to fix the problem, it’s important to know whether or not it’s actually moths that you’re dealing with.
Signs of a clothes moths problem include:
- Irregular patches on your clothing where a layer has been chewed off the surface.
- Holes gnawed clear through the fabric.
- Sightings of the moths or their eggs, larvae or cocoons.
What do clothes moths and their eggs and larvae look like?
Adult moths often bear a strong resemblance to butterflies, but there are a few ways to tell them apart:
- A butterfly’s antennae have a long, smooth shaft with a bulb on the end, while a moths are feathery or saw-edged.
- When resting, butterflies fold their wings vertically above their bodies, while moths’ wings lie horizontally.
- Unlike butterflies, moths have a frenulum, which connects the forewings to the hind wings.
If you have holes in your clothes, two of the prime suspects are case-bearing clothes moths and webbing clothes moths.
Adult case-bearing clothes moths are light brown with darker brown speckles, fuzzy heads, and long, non-furry antennae.
Webbing clothes moths can be brown, grey or gold, and have a small tuft of red hair on the tops of their heads.
Moth eggs are oval, ivory, and about 1/24-inch long, and they take four to ten days to hatch.
Once they hatch, webbing clothes moth larvae are whitish with a brown head, and they produce a silk-lined “tunnel” as they eat through or on the surface of a piece of fabric.
Case-bearing clothes moth larvae carry a flattened case about 1/4 to 1/2 of an inch long, and range in color from brown to white. They can also be identified by their dark heads and semitranslucent bodies.
Unlike butterflies, which create a hard chrysalis in order to metamorphose from a caterpillar to an adult, moths make silk-covered cocoons.
What kinds of clothing do clothes moths prefer?
Adult moths don’t eat, but their numerous offspring more thamake upup for their parents’ abstinence.
Moth larvae feed on materials that contain keratin, such as wool, cashmere, alpaca, angora, hair, fur, felt, silk and feathers.
They’re especially harmful to fabric that’s been soiled or stained, particularly by substances like food, urine or sweat.
How can I protect my clothing from clothes moths?
Here are a few things you can do to keep your outfits from getting chewed on:
- Consistently wash your clothing before putting it away. Clothes that are put away dirty are more attractive to moths.
- Vacuum regularly in dark, sheltered areas like under your furniture, where moths like to hide.
- If an article of clothing isn’t going to be used for a long time, like winter clothing in the summer, shake it out and expose it to sunlight from time to time to make sure there aren’t any young moths hiding in it, or store it in a garment storage bag that seals all the way up to where the hanger sticks out.
- Use pheromone moth traps to trick and capture male moths that are looking for mates. This breaks the breeding cycle, and if you do find moths in it, that tells you that they’re in your house and more might be hiding nearby.
- Keep screens over any windows or doors you plan to leave open, so the fresh air gets in and the moths stay out.
- Use moth-repellent scents and sprays, such as cedar wood products and essential cedar oil, to make your clothing storage areas unattractive to moths.
- If you find moths in your traps, notice larvae, cocoons or eggs, or find signs of moth damage, wash all the clothing in the area to kill any eggs and larvae that might be on them, and vacuum the room thoroughly. You can also use moth killer spray to kill the eggs, larvae and adult moths.
What if you’ve found clothes moths in your house, and you aren’t sure how to get rid of them all?
Moths like to hide in dark, unnoticed and sometimes hard-to-get-to areas, so once they’re established, it can be difficult to get rid of them all without the right equipment and know-how.
Even a single pair of clothes moths can produce 40-50 eggs, so you definitely don’t want to miss any!
If you want to make sure that your moth problem is completely gone, call us today at (724) 601-3223, or email us here to arrange a time for us to give you a free inspection and quote.