How to get rid of Carpet Moths and Clothes Moths Guide
Common Adult UK House Moths traditionally emerge from their cocoons in late spring and early summer. However, improvements in home insulation and heating have increased moth viability. This means they could emerge at any time in a well-heated home. You may see an uplift in the Moth population from late March to May. Read this guide to learn how to get rid of carpet moths and clothes moths.
As we store coats away until Autumn and dust off the light clothing, it’s important to ensure you know everything there is to know about the most common types of UK moth.
Do moths bite?
Despite their creepy appearances, adult moths aren’t directly to blame for a ruined wardrobe. Moths don’t bite, but moth larvae do. Don’t worry though, they don’t bite humans. Moth larvae consume natural fibres.
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 moth food.
Moth larvae chomp at clothes, carpets, crafting wool and furs. They do this to build the strength needed to turn into adult moths. Once grown, moths mate and then die off.
What do clothes moths and carpet moths look like?
How do you identify moths? There are two types of clothes moths that are common to the UK:
- The Common Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella), also known as the Webbing Clothes Moth
- The Case-Bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)
Common Clothes Moth
The Adult Common Clothes Moth is a small moth. Its body is around 7mm in length. You can identify it by its light brown/yellow head and golden wings. The Adult Moth lives 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.
Clothes Moths 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
The adult Case-bearing Clothes Moth is 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.
Case-bearing Clothes Moths are named because of the behaviour of their larvae. As the larvae feed on organic fibres, they weave a case around their bodies that they permanently inhabit. Because of this little addition, it can be 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, the Carpet Moth (Trichophaga tapetzella) is relatively rare. Because the two main types of clothes moth have also been known to eat carpets, clothes moths are often miscategorised as clothes 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).
The Carpet Moth eats organic fibres but prefers cooler environments. It is this preference that makes the Carpet Moth somewhat of a rarity around the home in 2022. Despite their name, they prefer to settle in bird nests.
Clothes Moth and Carpet Moths Larvae
After the Adult Female Moth lays its eggs, they take about a week to hatch in warm temperatures. Out of season or in colder areas, this process can take longer.
When moth 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 carpet 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 adult moths, they focus on reproduction. The lifespan of an adult moth 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 moth larvae 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, adult moths will emerge earlier. The pupal stage usually lasts a little longer than a week, with around 10 days being an average in the 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. Clothes Moths and Carpet Moths are found wherever natural fibres can be found:
- 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 of moths, clothes moths dislike bright lights. These species of moths 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 moth 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 Clothes Moth infestation can be difficult to detect. They 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.
Clothes moths and carpet moths spend most of their lifetimes 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
Clothes moths and carpet 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!
Clothes moths and carpet moths chew on all types of natural fibres. These include:
- Wools, including luxury wools like Cashmere and Angora
- Cotton, including corduroy, denim and flannel
In some cases, Clothes Moth larvae will 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.
- 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. 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 Killer Paper Booklets.
NOPE! Moth Killer Paper Booklets 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. The terpene compounds present in lavender act as a natural insecticide. The same properties are also present in rosemary.
NOPE! Moth Killer Paper Booklets are lavender-scented. Pleasant to us, the worst thing ever to moths.
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.