Moths are one of the few pests which are quite difficult to get rid of. Moth infestations usually occur in the damp and high humid areas of a house. This HomeQuicks article discusses some simple tips that can help you eliminate these insects from your house, and prevent future infestations.
Did You Know?
The clothes moth is one of the few insects that can digest keratin, the protein found in animal hair, skin, and feathers.
Moths and their larvae can damage your clothes and infest your kitchen. A moth is a type of insect that closely resembles the butterfly. In fact, both the insects belong to the same order, Lepidoptera. There are mainly two types of moths that can infest your house – the clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the pantry moth (Plodia interpunctella).
The term ‘clothes moth’ is usually used for the ‘webbing clothes moth’, the ‘casemaking clothes moth’, and the ‘tapestry or carpet moth’, of which the first two types of moths are more common, while the carpet moth is quite rare. On the other hand, the Mediterranean flour moth (Ephestia kuehniella) and the Indian meal moth (Plodia interpunctella) are the two common types of moths that can infest your kitchen.
Signs of a Moth Infestation
Unlike other types of moths, the clothes moth are rarely seen flying around a source of light. Rather, they prefer to settle down and lay eggs in dark and humid areas of your house that are rarely disturbed by human activities. This is the reason why you can usually find their larvae in your closets, or in the folds of your fabric, along with the basement and the dark corners of your house.
The adult clothes moths do not eat wool and other fabrics. Rather, the moth larvae are responsible for destroying your clothing and making holes in your cotton, silk, linen, wool, and synthetic fabrics. So, a few tiny holes in your sweater, cardigan, and other types of clothing, as well as webbing in the corners of your closets, and a musty smell in your clothes indicate that moths have already infested your house.
How to Get Rid of Moths
It is possible to prevent moth infestations by keeping every part of your house, especially the damp and high-moisture areas clean and tidy. But if moths have already invaded your house, then consider to try the following methods.
Vacuum and Clean
At the very first sight of moths, consider to check every cabinet, closet, cupboard, and the carpet for the presence moth larvae. If you detect their presence, take out the contents of your cabinets and closets, and start vacuuming them.
Take a piece of cloth and soak it in vinegar or soapy water. Now, use it to rub the floor and the walls of the closets, paying close attention to the nook and corners. This will help dislodge the larvae that stick tightly to the surface.
Wash and Iron Your Clothes
If you suspect the presence of moths and their larvae in your closet, then take out all clothes and wash them properly. After washing, dry them completely, preferably in the sun or on a hot drier. The clothing that cannot be dried on high heat can be placed in a freezer for a few days at temperatures below 18°F .
Ironing can help eliminate these pests and their larvae from your clothes. You should also air your clothing at regular intervals. The clothes you are not going to use on a daily basis, such as winter wear, should be stored in airtight plastic storage bags or metal containers.
Place Light Bulbs in Your Closet
As clothes moths mostly prefer a dark and humid environment, they can be repelled by placing energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs in the closets. Such light bulbs can act as a natural moth repellent.
Use a Dehumidifier
Clothes moths are known to have an affinity for areas with relatively high humidity. They simply thrive in a humid environment. By running a dehumidifier, you can create an atmosphere that is not suitable for them, and thus, keep them away from your house. For best results, remember to set your dehumidifier to the extra dry setting.
Moth Poison and Balls
Sometimes, the battle against moths becomes so difficult that one has to take the help of chemicals, like moth balls and poison. Though quite effective in controlling the population of moths, these chemicals have raised several health concerns. Mothballs usually contain naphthalene, which can destroy red blood cells if ingested or inhaled. Naphthalene is also considered a possible human carcinogen. Moreover, moth balls leave behind a strong and unpleasant scent on your clothes.
Cedar wood is an natural moth repellent. So, you can keep your clothes in cedar-lined chests and closets to protect them from moths. Even cedar hangers can be used to hang clothing made of wool. However, cedar items have to be retreated with cedar oil once in a year to retain their moth repellent quality. Otherwise, you can fill a sachet with cedar chips and hang it in your closet to prevent the entry of moths.
Use Moth Traps
Moth traps, especially the pheromone traps have shown tremendous success in catching adult moths. This method is particularly suitable for getting rid of pantry moths. You can also make your own moth trap by dabbing a small amount of fish oil on a flypaper. The smell of fish oil attracts moths. You can also hang a flypaper in your closet to capture clothes moths.
Discard all Moth-infested Food
Pantry moths are usually more difficult to get rid of than clothes moths. If you find moth larvae in any food item, then discard it immediately. Food items that smell musty, and stick together to form lumps, or look a bit sticky, are likely to be infested by moths. The presence of caterpillars in your pantry, and light webbing around the storage boxes are some other signs of a moth infestation.
If you observe these signs, then dispose the moth-infested food, and clean your cupboards and storage boxes properly. Use detergents and hot water to clean them. After cleaning, rinse them with vinegar. Make sure that all storage boxes and containers are completely dry before storing food in them.
Try Temperature Control
Temperature control is considered one of the most effective ways to control pantry moths. Place any new food purchased in a sealable plastic bag, and keep it in a freezer for at least 8 days. After 8 days, you can remove the food from the freezer, but keep it in the plastic bag for a while.
Store Food in Airtight Containers
It is always better to store food in glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to prevent the entry of moths and other insects. Apart from this, make sure that the pantry and other areas where you store food are clean and well-ventilated.
Natural Moth Repellents
Some natural products can help protect your house from moth infestations in the future. One such natural moth repellent is lavender oil. A cotton ball soaked in lavender oil can be placed in the closet to repel these insects. You can also use cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon for this purpose. You can make some sachets by including these three moth repellents, and hang them in your closets to prevent moth infestations.
Do not forget to clean your house frequently, and store food, especially the grains in airtight containers. But if all the aforementioned measures fail to eradicate these pesky pests from your house, or if moth infestations have become a recurring problem, then it could be a sign that these insects have deposited their eggs in some inaccessible areas. So, consider to get professional help to treat those areas and destroy the moth eggs.