They may look small and harmless, but they can cause surprising amounts of damage to your clothing, textiles and stored products in general. There are around 2,500 types of British moths which are ecologically beneficial. However, there are two types that eat textiles and objects derived from animals, including wool, silk, skin and fur. These moths' larvae will munch through antique rugs and treasured cashmere.
Types of moths
In the UK there are two clothes moth species which are the most common culprits for chewing through your garments – the Common Clothes Moth and the Case-Bearing Clothes Moth.
Common Clothes Moth
Also known as Tineola bisselliella
Adults are around 6–8 mm long
Straw coloured wings with no markings
Larvae is up to 10 mm long
Larvae is creamy white with a brown head
Regular shaped holes in garments and textiles
Photo ©: Olaf Leillinger, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons
Case-Bearing Clothes Moth
Also known as Tinea pellionella
Dark buff forewings with three faint spots
Adult are around 6-8mm long
Larvae is up to 10 mm long and creamy white in colour
Cause irregular shaped holes in natural fabrics
Photo ©: Janet Graham, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Both are small and largely go unseen, as they prefer dark areas such as:
Spaces under beds
Folds of fabric
Adult clothes moths aren’t actually the ones that feed. Females lay between 40 and 50 eggs onto fabrics and which can hatch within 10 days. This larval stage of clothes moths is what feeds on your textiles, specifically on ‘keratin’ within natural fibres, causing the holes you may have seen in your fabric.
Photo ©: Guido Gerding, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The larvae will happily feed on a variety of animal-based items including:
Carpets & rugs
Down filled pillows
Synthetic fabrics such as rayon and polyester are rarely damaged, unless they are blended with a natural fibre such as wool.
Signs of moths
The first thing most people notice is the damage caused to clothes, fabrics or carpets, but there are other indicators of a moth infestation:
Small maggot like larvae (moth caterpillars)
Silken tubes or 'cases' in which the moth larvae live
Pupae (silk cocoons) from which larvae eventually emerge as adult moths
Adult moths that are often crawling rather than flying
How to get rid of moths
Things you can do to hold back an infestation:
Change vacuum bags – to make sure you remove larvae and eggs from your property. Empty your vacuum outside and carefully double bag the contents before placing in an outside bin.
Wash all fabrics – soft furnishings, linens, rugs, blankets, curtains and towels in the affected area – moth larvae find these as tasty as clothes.
Keep clothes clean – female moths like to lay eggs on fabrics stained with sweat or urine as the larvae gain more nutrients from these. Always clean clothes before putting them back in your wardrobe.
Clean and wash down affected furniture – wardrobes, cupboards and drawers, especially cracks and crevices where moth eggs can be hidden out of sight.
Clean suitcases – bags, storage boxes and containers, as these might be hiding more eggs or larvae.
Check vintage purchases, whether vintage clothes or antique linens. Soft furnishings should be dry cleaned or treated before being placed with existing fabrics.
How to prevent clothes moths
Preventing moths in your home or business must always include ways to deny them entry indoors.
Use fly screens or draw curtains at night to prevent moths entering your home through doors and windows.
Vacuum regularly – ensure hidden areas such as under large furniture or sofas are regularly vacuumed, to try and remove moth eggs before they hatch.
Keep stored textiles in sealed bags. If you plan to store textiles for a long period of time, keep them in sealed plastic bags or suitcases to prevent moths access to lay eggs.
Clean clothes – moths are attracted to dirty or soiled garments, so always clean clothes thoroughly before storing them.
Our expert treatment offers a solution to ensure we get rid of your moth problem quickly and effectively. A moth problem can be very damaging for any business or organisation.
As soon as you notice signs of moths, like holes in materials or larvae and eggs, you need to call in the professionals.
How can White Horse Pest Control help?
At White Horse Pest Control, we:
Identify – species of moth and size of infestation
Recommend – the best solution for the problem
Implement – effectively get rid of the infestation
Advise – on actions you can take to help prevent further moth problems
For further information or for a quote, please contact us.