This past week we got a *little* glimpse of cooler weather. Some mornings are starting to qualify as "sweater weather" but what have your sweaters been doing all summer? It’s common this time of year to unpack your cold weather clothes and find damage done by clothes moth larvae. Check the racks of your local thrift store and you’re bound to find heaps of wool coats and sweaters riddled with moth holes. Who hasn’t found little holes in their favorite cashmere cardigan or wool sport coat?
Here are some facts and answers to questions we commonly get asked when treating for moths in the Charlotte area.
There are two kinds of clothes moths encountered in homes. Clothes moths, more specifically known as either the webbing clothes moth or the case-making clothes moth, are occasional fabric pests. Their larvae will feed on any animal fibers containing proteins, including fur, wool and wool blends, silk, hair, feathers/ down, mohair, cashmere, and more. You could find damage (or the larvae themselves) on woolen clothing, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, furs, stored wool, animal bristles in hair brushes, and even woolen felts on piano keys. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton may also be fed upon if they are blended with wool. Larvae may use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. Damage generally occurs in hidden areas such as under collars or cuffs of clothing, in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in areas of carpeting covered by furniture. Fabrics stained by foods, drinks or perspiration, are usually more subject to damage.
"Why didn't I notice the moths in my house this summer?"
Clothes moths are weak flyers and are not attracted to lights. They tend to hide when disturbed, and for this reason, infestations of clothes moths are not usually noticed until damaged fabrics, furs, or feathers are found. Close examination of the objects reveals the presence of silken webs that are spun by the larvae as they begin to pupate and also chew holes from larval feeding. Because adult moths are weak flyers and not attracted to lights, they are usually found very close to the infested items, such as in dark areas of closets. Adults are golden colored with reddish golden hairs on top of the head. Wings, with a span of about 1/2 inch, are fringed with a row of golden hairs and larvae are small and cream colored.
"Do they die in the winter?"
Heated buildings enable clothes moths to continue development even during the winter months. Generally, developmental time for the clothes moth from egg to egg is between four to six months, and there are generally two generations a year.
Your Pest Control Plan for Moths
Call us for advice on how best to tackle clothes moth issues. You can do a lot to prevent clothes moth damage by dry cleaning and then storing your valuable winter woolens and similar type of materials in airtight containers over the summer months.
To reduce the possibility of infestations we suggest:
1. Periodically clean areas of a home that may harbor clothes moths. These areas include many seldom-cleaned spots, such as under heavy pieces of furniture, along baseboards, in cracks where hair and debris accumulate, closets, heaters and vents. The vacuum cleaner is the best tool for most of this cleaning.
2. After vacuuming infested areas, freeze the bag, then dispose of it promptly. Bags can pick up eggs, larvae, or adult moths.
3. Clothes moths may first become established on woolen garments or scraps stored for long periods. If such articles are to be saved, they should be stored properly, or periodically hung in the sun and brushed thoroughly, especially along seams and in folds and pockets. Brushing destroys eggs and exposes larvae.
4. Larvae are strongly repelled by light, and will fall from clothing when they cannot find protection.
If these proactive measures do not work, then call us, and we can provide a trapping and mating disruption strategy as well as other materials known to be effective on clothes moths.