A reader in distress recently contacted us about a moth problem in her home. She explained that she has had clothes eaten, carpet destroyed, and has found larvae in her dog’s food. She has found small moths throughout many rooms of her home and has caught a few using moth traps, but wants to get rid of them as soon as possible. She said they are even destroying her walls and baseboards. She thinks they are either webbing clothes moths or case bearing moths.
Based on our reader’s description, it seems as though she might be dealing with a full-blown infestation. We aren’t able to identify the moth in the photo, so we don’t know if she dealing with case bearing moths or webbing clothes moths. There is also the possibility that both kinds of moths are present in her home, but the steps for getting rid of these two moths and their larvae are nearly identical.
Webbing clothes moth larvae eat clothes, carpeting, rugs, upholstered furniture, felt, animal hair, and stored wool. While our reader has seen many of the adult moths in her home, it is actually the larvae that are causing the damage to her possessions. Therefore, just setting moth traps won’t solve the problem because the traps won’t get rid of the larvae. So, there are a few steps our reader can take to eliminate these larvae. First, she will need to locate them. Since many of her clothes have been damaged, her closet seems like a good place to start the hunt. These larvae like dark and secluded places, so it’s good to keep that in mind while searching. Once she has found the larvae, the next step is thorough cleaning. She should begin by sorting through all of her clothes. Anything with significant damage should be thrown out. Everything else should be put through the laundry, and anything that can’t be washed at home should be dry cleaned. We think it would be smart to clear everything out of her closet in order to thoroughly investigate and clean it. She should also vacuum and dust the entire area.
Once she has finished cleaning, the next step is to put in the effort now to prevent future infestations. She should clean her closet every 2 weeks, and move clothes around fairly regularly so they are less inviting to moths since moths hate light and movement. Also, she should keep all of her wool clothing in garment bags, and store her off-season clothing in air tight containers. Although doing this might seem excessive, it’ll be worth the effort to not deal with another infestation!
Like webbing clothes moth larvae, case bearing moth larvae can eat and destroy clothes. They also collect dirt and other small particles to build their cases with, which they live inside while they grow as larvae. So, if our reader thinks she is also dealing with case bearing moths, she should do a cleaning sweep of her entire house to get rid of these small particles.
In summary, today we responded to a reader dealing with a moth infestation. We encourage her to do laundry and clean to eliminate the moths and their larvae, and to take the necessary steps to prevent them from returning.