Moths neither bite nor sting but they are pests nonetheless. Just imagine the horror that you would feel if you came upon wriggling larvae in your food or holes in your clothes, no-thanks to these critters.
It’s pretty obvious that a moth infestation should be taken very seriously as they are destructive and frustrating. To illustrate just how serious we are in helping you deal with these insects, we have made this useful guide that will show you how to get rid of moths in the bedroom and in your entire house.
Before we get to that, let’s first discuss some basic information that you should know about moths.
Table of Contents
- What Do Moths Look Like?
- What are the Signs of a Moth Infestation?
- How to Get Rid of Moths
- How to Prevent Future Infestations in Your Closet
- Top Rated and Recommended Moth Repellents
What Do Moths Look Like?
Moths usually have two pairs of wings that are covered in scales. They have a coiled proboscis and large compound eyes. Moths differ dramatically in appearance and size depending on the species. Some are huge and others tiny.
Certain species of moths are vivid with metallic colors while other drab in browns or grey. Most indoor infesting moths are smaller than 2 cm wingspan and often are shades of grey or brown to reddish brown.
How Do Moths Get Into Your House
There are a lot of different species of moths, but homeowners often encounter clothes moths and pantry moths. These pests are drawn to a number of common household items, which they may use as a food source or a place to lay eggs.
Pantry moths, like the Indian meal moth, devour dry goods, including grains, nuts, flours, spices, and chocolate. Clothes moths take over items like clothing and upholstery made of animal-based materials.
How Seriously Should You Take Moths?
The degree of moth damage relies on the intensity of the infestation. A large population in the house can prove quite expensive for you. Clothes moth larvae leave behind holes in garments and feces stains as they eat, while large amounts of food may be wasted because of contamination from pantry moth webbing, cocoons, and droppings.
Moth behavior, diet, and habits are as wide-ranging as their looks. They range from gorgeous pollinators to worrying blood feeders. Some moths are considered as major agricultural pests, while the majority completes their life cycle with no substantial direct impact on man. They often are a food source for a lot of animals like birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids and even some plants. Indoors, homeowners would possibly encounter moths that are either feeding on stored pantry items or on fabrics.
How Damaging are Moths?
Although they are renowned for their ability to wreck wool clothing, webbing clothes moths are also drawn to a variety of other natural elements, such as silk, hair, felt, fur and feathers. These moths tend to measure 2.5 to 5 cm in length and are buff colored.
Webbing clothes moth larvae, not the adults, are often the culprits for the destruction of your clothing. They like animal-based fabrics. Moths may consume sweaters, coats, blankets, carpets, decorative items, comforters, pillows, and toys. They don’t like to feed on synthetic fibers but will eat blended and stained fabrics.
Where Do They Hide?
Moths avoid light and are often found in gloomy locations like basements, attics, and closets. Within these areas, moths can be found in the folds of fabrics or hiding in corners.
Moths are highly capable of infesting a home long before their populations are detected. As a result of this, considerable damage can occur to clothing or furnishings.
While some are innocuous and others are even reputed to be beneficial for their silk and nutritional value, most moths and caterpillars are believed to be nuisance pests. A few, including the Io moth, the saddleback caterpillar moth, and the southern flannel moth, should even be steered clear of because the larvae can sting. Specifically, in agricultural communities, some moth and caterpillar populations cause a lot of damage.
Gypsy moth caterpillars are known to damage forested areas in the northern United States. Fruit farms suffer from codling moth infestations, while cabbages and mustard crops are often destroyed by the diamondback moth. Some moth larvae are known to eat cotton, tomatoes, and corn. These larvae are usually referred to as cotton bollworms, tomato fruitworms and corn earworms. Some moth species are also known to eat fabrics made from natural fibers, such as wool and silk.
What are the Signs of a Moth Infestation?
Unlike other kinds of moths, the clothes moth is seldom seen flying around a source of light. Rather, they like to settle down and lay eggs in dark and clammy areas of your house that are not often disturbed by human activities. This is the reason why you can often find their larvae inside of your closets, or in the folds of your fabric, as well as the basement and the dark spots of your house.
Adult clothes moths do not consume wool and other fabrics. Rather, the moth larvae destroy your clothing and make holes in your cotton, silk, linen, wool, and synthetic cloths. 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 are telltale signs that moths have already infested your residence.
How to Get Rid of Moths
It is doable to keep moth infestations away by making sure that every part of your house, especially the damp and high-moisture areas, are clean and neat. But if moths have already invaded your house, then consider the following methods.
1) Vacuum and Clean
Once you see the moths, then you should endeavor to check every cabinet, closet, cupboard, and the carpet for the presence of moth larvae. If you see their presence, take out the contents of your cabinets and closets, and get right to vacuuming them.
Take a piece of cloth and soak it in vinegar or soapy water. Then, use it to rub the floor and the walls of the closets, especially paying attention to the nook and corners. This will help remove the larvae that are sticking to the surface.
2) Wash and Iron Your Clothes
If you believe that there are moths and their larvae in your closet, then remove all clothes and thoroughly wash them. Then, after washing, dry them totally, ideally 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 also help a great deal in eradicating these critters and their larvae from your clothes. You should also try to air your clothing at consistent intervals. The clothes you are not going to use on an everyday basis, like that of winter wear should be kept in airtight plastic storage bags or metal containers.
3) Install Light Bulbs Inside Your Closet
As clothes moths commonly like a dark and humid area, they can be kept away by placing energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs in the closets. Such light bulbs can function as a natural moth repellent.
4) Make Use of a Dehumidifier
Clothes moths have a reputation for having an affinity for spots with relatively high humidity. They basically thrive in a humid atmosphere. By operating a dehumidifier, you can generate an atmosphere that is not suitable for them, and thus, would keep them away from your house. For better results, remember to set your dehumidifier to the extra dry setting.
5) Use Moth Poison and Balls
At times, the battle against moths becomes so challenging that you really have to make use of chemicals, like mothballs and poison. Though quite effective in regulating the population of moths, these chemicals have also raised a number of health concerns. Mothballs often contain naphthalene, which can destroy red blood cells if these are consumed or inhaled. Naphthalene is also believed to be a possible human carcinogen. More importantly, mothballs often leave behind an unpleasant scent on your clothes.
6) Use Products That are Made of Cedarwood
Cedarwood is a natural moth repellent. So, you can keep your clothes in cedar-lined chests and closets to safeguard them from moths. Even cedar hangers can be used to hang clothing that is composed of wool. However, cedar items have to be retreated with cedar oil every year to keep their moth repellent quality. Otherwise, you can fill a sachet with cedar chips and hang it in your closet to keep moths away.
7) Use Moth Traps
Moth traps, specifically the pheromone traps have shown incredible success in catching adult moths. This method is mostly ideal for getting rid of pantry moths. You can also make your own moth trap by dabbing a small amount of fish oil on flypaper. The smell of fish oil draws moths. You can also hang flypaper in your closet to seize clothes moths.
8) Throw Away Food That Has Been Contaminated by Moths
Pantry moths are often times more difficult to eliminate than that of clothes moths. If you find moth larvae in any of your food items, then throw it away immediately. Food items that smell musty, and stick together to form lumps, or look sticky, are most likely to be infested by moths. The presence of caterpillars in your pantry and light webbing around the storage boxes are other signs that you should a close eye out for as these are indications of a moth infestation.
If you see these signs, then again, it would be wise to throw away the moth-infested food and clean your cupboards and storage boxes properly. Use detergents and hot water to sanitize them. After cleaning, rinse them with vinegar. Make sure that all storage boxes and containers are thoroughly dry before putting food in them.
9) Control the Temperature
Temperature control is believed to be one of the most efficient means of controlling pantry moths. Place any new food that you bought in a sealable plastic bag, and keep it in a freezer for at least eight days. After that span of time, you can remove the food from the freezer, but keep it in the plastic bag for a while.
10) Keep Food in Airtight Containers
It is always best to store food in glass or plastic containers with tight-fitting lids to keep moths and other insects from entering it. Aside from this, you should also make sure that the pantry and other regions in the house where food is kept are clean and have enough ventilation.
11) Use Natural Moth Repellents
There are natural products that can help protect your house from moth infestations in the future. One example is lavender oil. A cotton ball soaked in lavender oil can be placed in the closet to keep these insects away. You can also utilize 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.
The general advice is to clean your house often, and store food, especially the grains in airtight containers. But if all the measures that have been mentioned still fail to eliminate these pesky pests from your house, or if moth infestations have become a problem that just keeps coming back, then it could be a sign that these insects have deposited their eggs in some areas that you have not found yet. In that case, perhaps you should consider getting professional help to treat those areas and eliminate the moth eggs.
How to Prevent Future Infestations in Your Closet
1) Brush clothing made from wool, fur or feathers after you wear it. Moth eggs usually enter closest by way of clothing that has been worn outside.
2) Keep your clothing clean. Moths are attracted to wool, but they’re especially apt to penetrate your closet if your clothing has stains from food and other items that they like to eat. Make sure you wash your clothes before hanging them. Dry clean wool items before keeping them for storage.
3) Store clothing the right way. Clothes you don’t wear each day, especially wool winter clothing, should be kept in an airtight place. Safeguard wool coats and sweaters with plastic bags and store winter clothing in plastic storage bags, plastic bins, or airtight metal containers.
4) Keep your closet cool and ventilated. Moths are drawn to humid spaces, so it’s crucial to keep the air circulating and on the cool side so they don’t decide to nest there.
5) Air out your clothing consistently. Let your wool items out to get some sun, especially if you’re taking them out at the beginning of fall or winter after they’ve been in storage.
6) Use cedar in your closet. Moths are repelled by cedar, so it’s a good idea to hang wool items on cedar hangers. You can also purchase ball-shaped pieces of cedar to hang in your closet, or fill a sachet bag with cedar chips and hang it up.
Try placing cedar-scented items in the pockets of your wool items for extra protection.
7) Try mothballs or a natural alternative. Setting up mothballs in your closet is an effective way to kill moths, but the chemicals mothballs are made with are toxic to humans, and they leave a strong scent in your closet and on your clothes. Try these alternatives instead:
- Sachets made with dried rosemary, thyme, clove, lavender, or bay leaves. Simply fill a small cloth bag with these ingredients, tie it with a string, and hang it up.
- Essential oils made from these herbs can be sprinkled in your closet or on your clothing as an effective moth deterrent.
Top Rated and Recommended Moth Repellents
1) Household Essentials CedarFresh Value Pack
- An assortment of popular red cedar wood storage accessories
- Safely repels pests, moths, mildew, and mustiness without chemicals for your closet and other storage needs
- All natural aromatic red cedar harvested from renewable forests
Cedar has a well-deserved reputation for being an effective moth repellent, and the CedarFresh Value Pack from Household Essentials is considered to be a top overall choice.
This value set comes with 71 solid cedar pieces that can be placed all throughout your home to repel moths and protect your clothing, rugs and more. The set includes cedar sachets, cubes, hang-up boards, and hanger rings.
The cubes can be situated in strategic areas similar to the use of mothballs, and the sachets are perfect for placing in drawers.
The hang-up boards and hanger rings make the most sense to use in clothing or linen closets.
2) Enoz Old-Fashioned Moth Control Balls
- Powerful scent
- Very effective
The Enoz Old-Fashioned Moth Balls is a fundamental, albeit strong-smelling, way to deter moths.
You will instantly recognize the familiar and powerful scent of naphthalene mothballs when you open the two-pound box of Enoz Old-Fashioned Moth Balls.
These mothballs are conveniently packaged in 8-ounce packages, so you don’t need to use the whole box at once.
3) SLA Cedar Scented Spray
- Cedar scented packets eliminate moths and carpet beetles
- Reefer-Galler moth preventatives help prevent damage from insects
To eradicate moths on contact and place a protective barrier on clothing and rugs, your best choice would be SLA Cedar Scented Spray.
This water-based spray is non-staining and perfectly safe to use on clothing and rugs, though it is chemical-based so use caution around pets and follow the directions on the product label. This spray uses pyrethrins to kill moths, and according to many users, it is extremely effective.
This makes for an ideal choice if you have a current moth infestation and are looking to take care of the problem.
The easy application makes it a good choice for large surface areas like wool rugs where moth larva may be living. One other benefit of this spray is the fact that it has no lasting odor – making it more tolerable for use on clothing or in living spaces.
4) Enoz Moth Ball Packets Lavender Scented
- These lavender-scented mothball packets kill clothes moths and carpet beetles and their eggs and larvae.
- Enoz moth preventatives are a surefire method of repelling moths repellent.
Enoz Lavender Scented Moth Ball Packets are a popular alternative to cedar or old-fashioned mothball products.
Each mothball packet has two lavender-scented tablets that deter moths and dissolve over time. Rather than the usual mothball or cedar scent, clothes, towels, and other items will have a light lavender scent.
Most people will find this to be a more pleasant aroma – but it still will keep moths and pests away!
5) Dr. Killigan’s Pantry Moth Traps
- Give your pantry some life with moth traps that are dressed to impress!
- Dr. Killigan’s specially formulated pheromone formula drives male moths absolutely crazy.
If you’re going up against a persistent invasion of pantry moths, you need a moth trap that is particularly designed for these ravenous invaders.
Dr. Killigan’s Pantry Moth Traps are a fine choice. These sticky traps are coated with a pheromone that draws the most common types of pantry moths.
The cardboard traps are easy to fold and place in cupboards, counters, and pantries. One thing to note is that the pheromones on these sticky traps will attract the male moths only.
This means that it will take time to completely eradicate a population of pantry moths.