Signs of Moth infestation
If you are wondering what causes a moth infestation, it may be some comfort to know that it has nothing to do with poor hygiene or an untidy house.
All a house moth infestation needs to start is one female to enter that house and lay her eggs. Given the small size of the clothes moth, this can happen to anyone.
What causes moths in the house is usually an accidental introduction. This can happen when an infested rug, borrowed clothes or indeed wall hung game is brought home along with these uninvited guests.
The first signs of a moth infestation are either noticing individual moths fluttering about or finding small holes in clothes. Unfortunately, it is very rare that the moth is a solitary individual or the first hole you find will be the last.
Clothes moths larvae prefer to feed on protein-based fibers. This includes woolen clothes, carpets, furs, and game. Cotton-based products can also be attacked. If your natural fiber clothes begin to show small holes, then moths may have taken hold.
Clothes moth larvae are no more than 1mm across and look like tiny white caterpillars or maggots. You can often see the larvae munching away in the hole.
Moth holes in clothes are very small and usually not big enough for a finger to pass through. If the holes are bigger than this, you may have a carpet beetle infestation, which needs a different treatment.
Moth traps come in various guises but all use the hormone pheromone. This hormone is emitted by female moths to attract a mate and male moths are drawn to it.
Commercial traps are available that are coated in pheromone and a sticky substance. Moths are drawn into the trap and get stuck in the trap. These traps can be hung in wardrobes or anywhere where moths are common.
A homemade clothes moth trap is easy to make and works on the same principle.
Pheromone can be purchased online already mixed into a sticky mixture. Simply coat some fluorescent colored cardboard with the mixture and hang the trap where needed.
If a pheromone is unavailable, you can make a homemade clothes moth trap using fish oil. Simply coat the cardboard in fish oil to attract the moths to a sticky end.
You won’t get rid of moths with just vacuuming, but it will keep the population under control.
3. Hair Dryer
You can also put infested clothes in the oven at a temperature of more than 120°F for at least 30 minutes to kill the clothes moths (8). Be aware that many natural fibers are damaged at these temperatures so be careful with your clothes.
4. Naphthalene Balls
Add two naphthalene balls in a small cloth pouch made of cotton fabric and place it in the corners of your wardrobe racks.
Note: Products exposed to mothballs should be aired out before use.
5. Cedar Chips
Cedar repels moths as they hate cedar wood. It is a natural moth repellent (11).
So to prevent a moth infestation, keep a bag of cedar chips in your wardrobe or closet to protect your stored clothing.
Cedar chips that are used should be freshly cut and the container in which they are kept should be sealed with plenty of air-holes (12).
6. Herb Sachets
Lavender is a natural moth repellent. Closely related plants such as thyme and rosemary also do the job. (17)
Rosemary, lavender, and thyme can be added to small cloth sachets and placed in the moth prone areas to keep them at bay (16).
7. Moth repellent spray
Place the mixture in fine mist spray bottle and use it as a moth repellent spray by spraying a thin film of the lavender water in your wardrobe and on clothes. (18)
There are many other anti-moth essential oils you can tray.
Peppermint oil for moths is another natural moth repellent essential oil that you can use to get rid of moths.
To make a homemade moth repellent spray, all one needs to do is add a few drops to half a pint of water and spray a fine mist over clothing and fabric.
8. Cloves Pouch
Moths are no different and cannot abide the ‘eugenol’, a natural insecticide found in cloves and their essential oil.
To deter clothes moths, make a small pouch by wrapping cloves in tissue paper or in cloth; keep them in the storage containers or wardrobes or closets (19).
Alternatively, you can also make a pouch mixing rosemary, cloves, thyme, mint, and Ginseng.
9. Bay Leaves
You can add bay leaves to a potpourri to eliminate moths. Sprinkle dry bay leaves at the bottom of your wardrobe to control a moth infestation (20).
10. Essential Oils
Add a few drops of oil to half a pint of water and spray a fine mist over clothes and fabrics.
Alternatively, dip a sponge in this mixture and squeeze.
Wipe this sponge over the moth prone corners of racks or wardrobes to get rid of moths, moth eggs and more (21).
11. Indian Lilac
Indian lilac is a great anti-pest natural herb (22). You can keep its fresh leaves in a corner of your kitchen rack to eliminate moths.
Alternatively, soak a cotton ball in its herbal oil and place them in the racks.
For your wardrobe, simply dust dry powder of Indian lilac.
But, treating certain areas with vinegar may leave stains, so use them carefully on kitchen slabs or delicate clothing.
Alternatively, you can also use a mixture of 1 cup of molasses and 2 cups of vinegar. Moths, attracted to vinegar smell, will stick to the mixture.
15. Cinnamon Sticks
Unfortunately, the scent of cinnamon may cling to clothes for longer, so keep them wrapped in tissue paper.
After getting rid of moths, try to clean your house regularly with mild soaps, vinegar or spray anti-moth essential oils to ensure they don’t come back.
16. Cold storage freezers
Place your infested clothing in the freezer at 5 F temperature or in Cold storage freezers at -20 F to not only kill the moth larvae but also the eggs.
Leave the items in the freezer for four to seven days. Cover the infested items in plastic bags to safeguard them from frost damage (24).
Note: Always remove as much air as possible from the plastic bag before cold storage.
17. Dry Cleaning
The solvents used in the dry-cleaning process are toxic to the larvae.
Indeed, clothes made from natural protein-based fibers should be the perfect food for moth larvae.
However, if you regularly dry clean these clothes, moth infestations never take hold.
- Wash your clothes to do away with moth eggs stuck in clothing (25, 26).
- It is good to sun and brush dresses made of wool and fur (27, 28).
- Clean your window curtains, screens and sofa covers (29).
- Wash the suitcases, storage containers and kitchen racks.
- Dispose of infested food items in the garbage (30).
- Clean cupboards using soapy water (31).
- Vacuum corners and crevices daily to avoid pests (32).
- Don’t spray alcohol in your wardrobe to eliminate moths. This may cause stains in your dresses (33).
- After washing the suitcases, food storage containers and bags, do not leave them moist as they invite fungus.
- Don’t leave the moth-attracting flypaper in your kitchen racks or wardrobes overnight as it attracts other smaller insects.