Image via flickr by Donald Hobern
You’re getting ready to go out on the town, and you want to wear your favorite sweater — but when you pull it off the hanger, you notice that there are tiny holes eaten into the fabric; this is a sign that webbing clothes moths have visited your closet. These moths can cause significant damage to your wardrobe if you don’t know how to get rid of them.
After discovering evidence that moths have eaten into one piece of clothing, you should thoroughly inspect all of your other garments for signs of damage and search the closet for adult webbing clothes moths. If it seems to be an isolated incident, the threat may not be high. However, if you find more clothing that has been damaged, you could have a serious problem. Being observant and cleaning your closet is vital to protecting your family’s clothing.
Webbing clothes moths are insects that feed on clothing, rugs, carpet, bedding, and upholstery. A common misconception about these moths is that the adults are the ones responsible for the damage they have caused, but adults don’t have working mouthparts. The larvae of webbing clothes moths are the ones responsible for leaving behind a wake of destruction as they feed.
Unlike food-infesting moths, webbing clothes moths are more nocturnal and will avoid lights. They are not strong flyers, and the ones you see flying are typically males, as the females are weaker and prefer to crawl or hop along the ground. Webbing clothes moths have a very unusual flying style and look as if they are injured or out of control.
Females will find their way to favored food sources to lay their eggs. They are careful to place the eggs between the threads or inside cracks of the selected food source. The eggs can be arranged individually or in groups, and a female will lay anywhere from 40 to 50 eggs. During the warmer summer months, webbing clothes moth eggs will hatch in around four days, but they can take as long as three weeks when conditions aren’t ideal.
Upon hatching, the larvae will begin to feed right away. As they move about their food sources, they leave behind a silky residue that contains bits and pieces of the material they are eating as well as their fecal matter. As the larvae grow, they will molt, possibly up to 45 times before spinning a silken cocoon and beginning to pupate. Depending on the environmental conditions they find themselves in, it can take between 35 days to two years for them to develop into adults. The adults will only live for around two weeks.
Webbing clothes moths measure around 12 millimeters from one wingtip to the other. They have yellowish coloration with a distinctive golden sheen. They have hair on the top of their head that is reddish-gold. When they are flying or attempting to fly, they are easy to identify by their disjointed and unconventional aerial acrobatics.
Another identifying characteristic of webbing clothes moths is their aversion to light; they will retreat from it entirely. The locations where they are found will help confirm their identity, as they gravitate to the darkest areas of closets that contain suitable food sources.
Webbing clothes moths can be found throughout the United States. Their ideal place of residence is in your closet or pantry. Though fabrics rich in keratin are what they prefer to eat, they will sometimes feed on foods rich in grains. These moths are more active in warmer climates during the summer months, but when living in an environment such as your home, they can thrive all year long.
Webbing clothes moths can cause some rather expensive damage when living inside your home. The most common issue with webbing clothes moths is the destruction that they cause to wardrobes. They can also destroy floor coverings, upholstered furniture, and bedding. This type of damage can become costly within a very short timeframe.
Signs of an infestation will be the destruction that they leave behind and a sudden influx of adult moths flying around inside your home. When encountered with an invasion of webbing clothes moths, you may want to consider using a professional pest control agency. Trained technicians are capable of identifying and neutralizing the threat, implementing ongoing prevention plans, and ensuring that your wardrobe is protected from future infestations.
Webbing clothes moths like to eat your clothes; you may not realize you have a problem until it’s too late. As with all pests, prevention is the best way to control these moths. Laundering or dry cleaning your clothing will deter moths from eating it, as they prefer soiled materials. Maintaining a clean and organized closet will also aid you in defending your clothes against moths. If you are storing clothes, they will need to be kept in a tightly sealed container to prevent adult moths from gaining access to them.
Traps and insecticides are available to combat webbing clothes moths. Pheromone traps can trap the adults, preventing them from reaching your clothes and laying eggs. Insecticides can be used to treat areas where you have observed webbing clothes moths or the damage they caused. You can also treat dark, secluded areas where they might be hiding. Be sure to follow the instructions when using products such as the ones mentioned above.
Staying vigilant is the best course of action when it comes to protecting your home and family from pests of all kinds. Now that you know how to get rid of webbing clothes moths, you can take the necessary steps to prevent or eradicate a webbing clothes moth infestation. By taking action, you won’t have to worry about your next favorite sweater being ruined.