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Clothes Moths

Clothes moths may sound harmless enough, but they can cause serious damage to your clothing and household furnishings. With their preference for dark and undisturbed places, they can often be extremely difficult to identify. If you think that you may have a clothes moth infestation, it is important to act upon it and eliminate the problem as quickly as possible.

Have you recently gone into your wardrobe to put on your best suit and noticed that it is looking tattered and full of holes? Or maybe it’s your finest cashmere sweater that’s suffered. If this sounds familiar, then unfortunately, it could mean that you have a clothes moth infestation.

Whilst they are not a danger to human beings, clothes moths can be a real pest to your home environment, causing extreme damage to your clothes as well as your furnishings such as carpets or sofas.

In order to recognise a clothes moth (also known as Tineola Bisselliella), it is important to note that they are roughly 5mm in length and a buff or yellowish-brown in colour. They prefer dark and undisturbed places where they will not be bothered and have a tendency to hide amongst clothes and furniture. As they are so difficult to find, this means that not only can they be easily overlooked, but they are extremely difficult to eradicate completely.

If you happen to notice the odd moth moving around inside your house, do not fall into the trap of thinking that it is just a regular moth and that it will find its way outside eventually. Have a look in your wardrobes and around the back of your sofas for any telltale signs that these may be more than just regular moths. If you do find any indication that they are indeed clothes moths, act upon it quickly; you may be lucky, as you may have identified the problem before it becomes too serious.

You may attempt to physically catch the moths and kill them but unfortunately, even this may not entirely solve your problem. Clothes moths lay eggs which, once hatched, produce larvae and unless these are also destroyed, they will then grow into clothes moths and the infestation will re-occur.

In order to eliminate a clothes moth infestation, there are a number of steps that can be taken. For instance, you could try using a pheromone trap to catch the moths. Most clothes moths rarely fly, especially the females who tend to run or hop in order to travel to their destinations. If you happen to see a clothes moth in the air, it is likely that this will be a male flying about in search of a mate. It is this act of mating that is used to lure the clothes moths into the pheromone trap.

A second method would be to invest in a spray that is used specifically to kill the moths. However, as the spray is not able to kill the eggs, this may not prevent the clothes moth infestation from reoccurring.

A final method would be to bring in exterminators; they would visit your house and undertake a number of treatments to completely eradicate the infestation. The first treatment would be to kill the clothes moths that already exist, but most exterminators recommend that a further treatment (or treatments, depending upon the size of the infestation) is undertaken at a later date, in order to kill any remaining larvae that may have hatched from the eggs in the mean time.

There are a number of exterminating companies available that will provide you with the services you need and destroy the infestation with a high level of success. Whilst you may attempt to eliminate the problem yourself, you may not be entirely successful. It’s always safer to get the experts in who know what they are doing and who can ensure that the job is done properly.

Features/Biology

On average, adult clothes moths are approximately 5mm long and are buff/yellowish brown in colour. Due to their preference for dark and undisturbed places, clothes moths rarely fly and this often leads them to cause an infestation within the home. The female moths tend to travel by running or hopping. Therefore, most insects that you see flying around are males looking for a mate. This mating behaviour is regularly used by exterminators to help lure the males into a pheromone trap and subsequently, eliminate the clothes moth infestation.

Problems/Risks

Clothes moths can be extremely troublesome, as they tend to eat the most expensive fine woollen or silk garments, meaning your most costly suits and cashmere sweaters are often the first to be attacked. Carpets, woollen jumpers, blankets, feathered items, furs and silk can also be severely damaged or even destroyed by a clothes moth infestation. We therefore recommend getting rid of clothes moths as quickly as possible.

Recommended treatment

Due to the nature of moths and their ability to hide in clothing and furniture, it is not always possible to completely get rid of a clothes moth infestation; as it can be difficult and extremely time consuming to remove and wash (or dry-clean) all clothing and soft furnishings. If you need help with getting rid of clothes moths, please contact us; as we will be happy to visit your property and ascertain the level of your infestation. During our visit, we will be able to discuss with you what can realistically be moved or cleaned, in order to help us to treat the infestation with a high level of success.

On average, we consider that in order to prevent the infestation from reoccurring, a minimum course of at least two treatments is required to kill off the majority of the clothes moths and their larvae. However, as sprays are not able to kill the eggs, it is possible that in cases where there is a severe infestation, a third treatment may be required to control any residual moths, which hatch out from these eggs. To help monitor the level of a clothes moth infestation, pheromone monitor traps (as shown on the left) can be used to catch stray moths, or detect for any new infestations.

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