Most moths in the UK are harmless and don’t pose any risk to health. There are some that are seen as pests because of the damage they’re capable of causing. Clothes moth larvae for example, are renowned for damaging cherished garments stored in wardrobes. Unbeknown to many, clothes moths can cause a lot more damage than just making holes in our woollies.
Their larvae can destroy a range of materials, textiles and other items you might keep in storage. Once inside a property, common clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella) and, case bearing clothes moths (Tinea pellionella) can severely damage natural fibres. Like those in carpets, fabrics, fur, leather, rugs, upholstery, tapestries and even feathers. Moth larvae can also ruin natural materials such as wool, cotton and silk. This is because they feed on the ‘keratin’ in these materials, putting your most delicate items at particular risk.
Signs of a moth problem
Moth problems aren’t uncommon, once inside cosy heated buildings, these insects have the potential to breed all year round. If you think that you may have moth eaten clothes, look out for the following signs:
- Damage to clothing. This most frequently occurs in knitwear, silk or leather garments. You will notice holes in your items where the larvae have been left to eat the fibres. Staining, moisture or even droppings from the larvae (which is called frass) may be spotted on your clothes.
- Moths or larvae may be seen. This can be difficult, as their eggs are very small and are usually found in dark, undisturbed areas. Places like drawers, wardrobes or even skirting boards. Adult moths can fit into very tight crevices so can be hard to spot unless you catch them in flight.
- Unexplained damage or thread bare patches in carpets and rugs. Even if these items only contain a small percentage of natural wool fibre, clothes moth larvae will find it.
- You may notice fine webbing, similar to spider webs nearby damaged items. Clothes moth larvae spin silk tunnels to provide camouflage during the day. Whilst case bearing clothes moth larvae carry spun cases with them for hiding and protection.
- White shouldered house moth larvae scavenge on food so you may notice damage to products stored in cupboards.
What you can do if you discover a clothes moth infestation
Don’t panic if you do have a moth problem, it’s entirely treatable and the following measures can help:
- Vacuum carefully any affected areas, ensuring when emptying the vacuum bag this is done outside of the property.
- Dispose of any items which have been severely damaged.
- If materials are salvageable, remove any larvae before washing or dry cleaning.
- Spray wardrobes, drawers, carpet edges, skirting boards and cracks with an insecticidal spray.
- Large, more serious or repeated infestations may require professional treatment. Rentokil can help to identify the species of the moth and the extent of the infestation. We can then recommend the most appropriate moth control treatments and eradicate the problem quickly and effectively. We will also be able to advise you about preventing future outbreaks.