How to get rid of Moths
Common Adult UK House Moths traditionally emerge from their cocoons in late spring and early summer. However, improvements in home insulation and heating have caused them to flourish. This means they could emerge at any time in a well-heated home. You may see an uplift in the population from late March to May. As we store coats away until Autumn and dust off the light clothing, read this guide to learn how to get rid of moths.
Why do moths eat clothes?
As part of the moth lifecycle, clothes moth larvae and carpet moth larvae eat clothes. Socks, underwear, designer gear – everything in your closet, wardrobe and drawers could become a food source.
Moth larvae chomp at clothes, carpets, crafting wool and furs. They do this to build the strength needed to turn into fully grown adults. Once grown, they reproduce and die.
Do moths bite?
Despite their creepy appearances, adult moths aren’t directly to blame for ruined wardrobes. Don’t worry though, larvae don’t bite humans. Instead, they consume natural fibres.
What do clothes moths and carpet moths look like?
How do you identify moths? There are three well-known types of clothes eaters in the UK:
- The Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella), also known as the Webbing Clothes Moth
- The Case-Bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)
- Carpet Moth (Trichophaga tapetzella, also known as the Tapestry Moth)
Common Clothes Moth
Also known as the Webbing Clothes Moth, or Tineola bisselliella. Its body is around 7mm in length. You can identify it by its light brown/yellow head and golden wings. Adults live for around a month.
Its larvae are tiny, around mm in length. They are identifiable by their yellow/white segmented bodies. They have brown heads with microscopic antennae and pincers to find and consume fabric.
Females lay 100-200 eggs at a time, covered in a glue-like substance to help them attach to their surroundings. Eggs are yellow to off-white.
Case-bearing Clothes Moth
Similarly sized to the Common Clothes Moth. It is identifiable by its silver-tinged grey and brown body. Its wings are predominantly brown with black spots. It is common in the UK and can be found worldwide.
This type of insect is named because after their larvae’s behaviour. As the larvae feed on organic fibres, they weave a case around their bodies that they permanently inhabit. This little addition makes it easier to spot Case-bearing clothes moth larvae than other types.
Carpet Moth (Trichophaga tapetzella, also known as the tapestry moth)
If you’re trying to decide between carpet moth vs clothes moth in your home, be aware of the distinction between the two. In the UK, Trichophaga tapetzella is relatively rare. Because the two main types of clothes moth have also been known to eat carpets, they are are often miscategorised as carpet moths.
If you know what to look for, the Carpet Moth is impossible to mistake for anything else. Distinguishable by their two-tone black and white wings and larvae which build cases around them (much like the Case-bearing Clothes Moth).
Their larvae eat organic fibres and prefer cooler environments. This makes the Carpet Moth somewhat of a rarity around the home in 2023. Despite their name, they prefer to settle in bird nests.
Clothes Moth and Carpet Moths Larvae
After Adult Female Moths lays their eggs, they take about a week to hatch in warm temperatures. Out of season or in colder areas, this process can take longer.
When larvae hatch, they are tiny. They grow from around 2mm to lengths of up to 1.0-1.5 mm long. Their huge potential for damage comes from how long they spend in the larval stage.
Moths can spend months to a year of their lives as larvae. They constantly eat away at clothes and carpets during this time. A single larva struggles to do much damage. But hundreds at a time can cause a serious problem seriously quickly.
How long does a moth live?
Moths can spend months to a year of their lives as larvae. They constantly eat away at clothes and carpets during this time. A single larva struggles to do much damage. But hundreds at a time can cause a serious problem seriously quickly. Once they have fully grown into adults, they focus on reproduction. The lifespan of an adult is only a few weeks. As moths live the majority of their lives and do the most damage as larvae, we must get to know the signs of infestation.
After they have eaten enough to fuel growth, it’s time for larvae to pupate into adult moths. The time a Common UK Moth spends in a cocoon varies, depending on the temperature of their surroundings. In warmer temperatures, adults emerge earlier. The pupal stage usually lasts a little longer than a week. Around 10 days is the average in an optimum climate. Larvae will retreat into warm and dark areas to pupate. They love closets, drawers and wardrobes. Always look for a repellent for moths that can be used in contact with clothes. Once they have found a warm and quiet place, they weave silk around themselves and undergo a process known as Histolysis. During histolysis, their larval bodies literally liquefy and reconstitute into an adult moth. Yuck!
Always look out for discarded Moth casings. Much like moths eggs, they are small and white. If you spot an errant white rice grain your the cupboard, look closer. It could be a spent Moth cocoon.
How to find Clothes Moths and Carpet Moths
To prevent a bedroom filled with moth-eaten clothes, know where the enemy hides. They can be located wherever natural fibres are found and often where we store clothes:
- In, around and under carpets.
For Carpet Moth treatment, ensure that you check skirting boards in contact with carpets as well as around and under upholstered furniture.
In nature, they have often been found inside bird nests. There, they feed on feathers, hair and fabric that birds have scavenged for their nests.
Unlike other types, clothes moths dislike bright lights. These species will seek out dark and quiet places to lay their eggs. In the dark, larvae will spend months feeding away at any fibres they can reach.
Common clothes moth larvae don’t travel far, but case-bearing clothes larvae have been known to cross some distances. They build their cases as they eat, so you’re more likely to find a case-bearing clothes moth larva wandering across your carpet or your favourite woolly jumper.
It is important to always be vigilant in case of moth infestation. Look for these tell-tale warning signs.
- Small holes or frayed ends of clothes and other fabrics
- Discarded fibrous casings, often with larvae inside.
- Sticky off-white eggs and tiny white larvae
How Clothes Moth and Carpet Moth infestations grow
A Moth infestation can be difficult to detect. Eggs or larvae are most comfortable in the back of undisturbed, dark wardrobes. Damaged clothes or carpets are often the first signs of infestation. Look out for small holes and tatty corners in clothes and carpets.
Most of their lifetimes are spent as larvae. They can do a lot of damage unnoticed. By the time you notice holes, it’s already too late.
What Clothes Moths and Carpet Moths eat
Moths eat organic, natural fibres. More specifically, they feed on the keratin present in fibres. Keratin is the same material that makes up your hair and nails which means, yes, they will eat those too! During an active infestation, consider protecting your clothes in garment bags.
Natural fibres include:
- Wools, including luxury wools like Cashmere and Angora
- Cotton, including corduroy, denim and flannel
In some cases, Clothes and Carpet Moth larvae also ingest parts of composite fabric blend. They have even been known to eat food-stained or sweat-saturated 100% synthetic fabric materials like polyester or nylon.
How to get rid of Clothes Moths and Carpet Moths
Once you’ve confirmed the presence of moths in your home, it’s time to get rid of them. What are the best moth repellents? Find out here.
- Clear the area around the infestation. Empty wardrobes and drawers and thoroughly vacuum carpets and soft furnishings that cannot be removed from the area.
- Separate and shake soft furnishings outside the home and vacuum everything thoroughly. This is to ensure that excesses of live larvae or eggs are removed from the home. Make sure all clothes are washed or dry cleaned thoroughly.
- Vacuum empty wardrobes, drawers and other areas of infestation. Immediately dispose of vacuum contents.
- Apply NOPE! CP Clothes Moth Killer Spray directly onto cupboards, wardrobes, drawers and empty interiors. Remove all treated adult clothes moths. Ensure all treatment areas are dried before returning clothes and fabrics.
- Once the infestation is clear, protect your wardrobes and drawers with NOPE! Clothes Moth Traps.
Harness the power of lavender
Ever wondered why moths hate lavender?
Lavender has been used as a powerful and pleasant tool to ward away moths for hundreds of years. Lavender oil is an essential oil that comes from Lavender plants. The terpene compounds present in lavender act as a natural insecticide. The same properties are also present in rosemary.
In a pinch, lavender and rosemary can be used to ward off moths but they will not eliminate a present infestation.
NOPE! CP Clothes Moth Killer Spray protection lasts
NOPE! CP’s powerful spray formulation provides a lasting barrier against all types of moths.
When sprayed on an undisturbed surface, NOPE! CP Clothes Moth Killer Spray kills moths on contact.
It can be used to quickly deal with infestations for efficient and effective pest control. Now you know how to get rid of moths, you can easily and safely protect your home and belongings from one of the UK’s most common pests.