What is a clothes moth and why do I have them?
Clothes moths are a common household pest commonly found in closets around the world. As their common name states, these insects are known for causing damage to fabrics from your furniture and bedding to curtains and clothing. As the larva produce particles that people may be allergic to, it’s in your best interest to control them as soon as possible. In order to help you along the way, the team here at Exceptional building Inspections has all the info you need.
Australian Clothes Moths
Australia has two common clothes moth species, Webbing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) and Case-Making Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella); both of which were accidentally introduced into Australia and are found in urban areas in most states. There are many pest insects in Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development has a great page devoted to identification of these insects.
Both species’ larvae build specialised cocoon-homes from spun silk which act as camouflage and physical protection. Case-Making clothes moth larvae carry their home on their back. As the larvae travel and feed, the cocoon picks up material covering it in fabric fibres, dust, and hairs. Larvae are often found climbing up walls and curtains near a food source. Webbing clothes moth larvae’s home is stationary and is often covered in fibres from the nearby food source and faeces providing it with excellent camouflage.
Clothes moths have a relatively short lifecycle – they are not able to feed and sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs. They lay up to 50 eggs which are oval-shaped, cream-coloured, sticky and under 1mm long. They hatch between 4 and 21 days and are laid on or near a suitable food source where they hatch into caterpillars who shed their skin as they grow. The Webbing Moth larvae live between 1 month and 2.5yrs, if they go into a hibernation, while the Case-Making larvae generally live between 2 and 3 months before pupating into moths.
Dealing with Clothes Moths
So, you’ve discovered holes in your clothes or bare patches in your carpet? Maybe you discovered larval cases or sticky webbing when cleaning? Either way it looks like you’ve got a clothes moth infestation and now it’s time to clear out every stage of these pests.
Dr Ted Edwards of the CSIRO’s Australian National Insect Collection spoke with ABC Radio about the insects and how to deal with them.
“If it’s in carpet, vacuum it up and expose the area to as much light and openness as possible,” Dr Edwards said. “They like nice dark corners, and if it’s behind a piece of furniture or something like that, then move the furniture and expose the whole area.”
Cleaning the affected areas and items is very important:
- Vacuum and wipe out any affected cupboards or wardrobes.
- Put any affected clothing or other small fabric articles in the freezer for a week or two if you have the space, the cold will kill all the larvae and eggs.
- Wash everything before returning to the clean spaces.
- Dr Edwards suggests that the use of insecticides or professional fumigation should be considered as last resorts.
Preventing Clothes Moths
The Australian Environmental Pest Managers Association (AEPMA) suggests various forms of prevention for controlling clothes moths including periodic dry cleaning or laundering, proper storage, freezing, heating, fumigating with dry ice, trapping, or insecticides. While insecticides are recommended as a last resort, they can be a very quick knockdown for clothes moths.
- Traps – Placing pheromone traps in closets and other storage areas helps you detect the insects and can assist with controlling the population by trapping the males, preventing them from mating.
- Environment – Low humidity levels help to create unfavourable environments for the clothes moth development. Blocking up tiny cracks and crevices will help to stop them from coming inside. Keeping your house clean by regularly moving furniture and monitoring fabrics and closets for moths and their damage will help you act earlier.
- Inspecting – Keep an eye out for silken tubes in the hidden portion of clothes and in dark spaces such as under lounges. Check for any signs of surface grazing of fibres or holes in the fabrics, with fur items the hairs will be clipped at their base leading to lost fur and exposed hide.
Dealing with pests isn’t a fun experience. Clothes Moths aren’t too bad but can cause expensive damage if not taken care of. Exceptional Building Inspections provides many services including Pre-Purchase Building and Timber Pest Reports. For more information and to find out more about booking your own inspections, contact us today on 0412 188 199 or 4950 4197. Alternatively, please leave and online message by clicking here and a member of the team will contact you right back.