None of us like the idea of sharing our homes with uninvited guests. Yet insects of all varieties can, and do, delight in invading our personal space, sometimes with expensive and all too damaging consequences.
While houseflies, crane flies and even spiders are annoying or even a little bit scary, they’re generally pretty harmless, especially when compared to the potentially destructive havoc that can be wreaked by moths!
There are some 2,500 species of moth and most, like these nocturnal visitors, feed mainly on trees and leaves and are attracted to light sources, hence they make their presence known simply by being irritating.
Just two or three species of moth are known to damage clothing. Clothes moths don’t like light and are so secretive you will probably never see them. What’s more the adult moths won’t do any harm. It is actually the larvae of two very different insects – clothes moths and carpet beetles – that can both cause the sort of damage usually attributed to moths. But whereas after hatching moth larvae are active for just a couple of months the beetle larvae can feed on fabrics and fibres for more than a year.
Both larvae shun bright light so they seldom attack frequently worn clothing or carpets and soft furnishings that are heavily trafficked. They prefer clothing that’s been packed away or carpeting under beds, wardrobes and sofas where they can feed undisturbed on an abundance of wool, pet hair and pretty much any fibrous household detritus that comes their way. So, regular cleaning, particularly in places you don’t normally see, is your best defence.
Vacuuming certainly helps as you may well be removing moth eggs and larvae without even knowing it before they get the chance to hatch. Also, never pack away seasonal clothing without first ensuring it’s clean, as stains and food spills will attract and nourish the pests. Neither moth or beetle larvae will eat items made from synthetic or cotton fabrics, but if these are packed away with woolen items it’s vital that they too have also been thoroughly washed. To safeguard your stored clothing against attack, use sealed storage bags. Moths can infiltrate even the smallest gap so those that close with zippers, or vacuum-type bags are ideal.
But even if you are best friends with your vacuum cleaner and meticulous about your cleaning regime it’s still possible to be caught unawares, as every home has a few warm dark corners that are potential breeding grounds. Obvious signs of a problem are finding unexpected holes in items of clothing or even bald patches or fraying in woolen carpets or rugs. Moth larvae leave silvery threads or cigar-like cocoons while beetle larvae deposit dried skins like tiny grains of rice.
If you discover any of these signs you must take action. Legislation regarding the manufacture and sale of chemical pest treatments can appear both limiting and confusing, so pop in to see us at Mallett’s Home Hardware in Truro. We have an affordable range of tried and tested DIY products to tackle all forms of infestations from insects and household pests, and plenty of free help and advice about how best to tackle your particular problem.
Where once clothes moths were mainly a seasonal phenomenon, central heating and poor ventilation has turned our homes into a year-round breeding ground. While lifestyle and a good housekeeping regime can certainly reduce the risk of infestation we are none of us immune from the scourge of the clothes moth. So it’s good to know that our team can help if you ever get in a bit of a flutter!