Are you sick of opening your closet to discover moths swarming and your clothing ruined? We’ll explain why and how to stop this from happening.
Even though finding a hole in your favorite cashmere sweater caused by moths may be revolting, their slimy larvae—not the actual moths—are the ones who actually consume your clothing.
However, why do moths eat clothing? Female moths typically choose clothing made of keratin-containing animal fibers like silk, wool, cashmere, angora, or fur because moth larvae have a fairly specific diet. Our skin and hair both contain keratin, a structural protein that is fibrous.
Here are some tips to help you get rid of clothing moths.
Why Do Moths Eat Clothes?
Given our understanding of the clothes moth life cycle, more specifically, why do moth larvae eat clothes?
The larvae require food in order to develop and pupate into adult clothes moths. Clothes moths have evolved to get their sustenance from Keratin – this is the protein in animal-based fabrics (cashmere, wool, silk, feathers, and fur mainly).
This is why your investment pieces in your wardrobes, your precious home textiles, and your valuable rugs and carpets are threatened by the presence of clothes moths. Human hair and shed skin cells both contain keratin. Cleaning is crucial because household dust contains hair and skin cells from people and animals.
Putting this together, and considering our busy lifestyles, the following common scenarios show how our homes can easily create the perfect breeding ground for clothes moths:
- Under the sofa – heavy furniture is difficult to move, vacuuming is often a quick chore, and moths love darker undisturbed places to lay their eggs – furniture often sits on natural wool carpets or rugs.
- In the wardrobe in the spare bedroom – through the summer months, heavier winter clothing (sweaters and coats in particular) are often stored hung in the wardrobe or folded in dresser drawers. They are not always stored in breathable, moth-proof garment storage bags, and often lay untouched for months on end.
- In the attic – so many times we have heard the stories of the silk The Persian rug or grandma’s fur coat, which is a priceless heirloom passed down the family, are both kept in the attic. Often these items lay unmoved in the dark for years, and so creating the perfect environment for a really serious clothes moth infestation. It may be only time before the moths migrate to your wardrobe in search of soft, tasty cashmere!
What Do Clothes Moths Look Like?
When compared to house moths, clothes moths are different in shape. They have a row of long hairs around the tip of their front wing that can be seen above the head and at body level when viewed from the side. They are smaller than typical house moths and have a golden brown color.
The case making moth has dark spots on its brown wings and is bigger than the common clothes moth. The silk case that the caterpillars create shields their bodies. They keep dragging this case around because it is open-ended. The caterpillar can feed because both ends of the tube are open.
Female clothes moths mate shortly after emerging from the egg, and then they spend the following few weeks looking for locations to lay between 40 and 70 eggs.
Moths may be visible in your wardrobe, but it’s important to understand that they will have already laid their eggs, so killing them won’t shield your clothing from damage. The larvae are what eat your clothing, so they are to blame.
The clothes moth’s caterpillars consume dry food but keep their body moisture in a dry environment. Keratin can be found in clothing made from animal materials like wool, hair, and feathers. Most insects and all mammals cannot digest keratin.
But using a specific enzyme produced in their gut, the caterpillars of clothes moths are able to degrade materials that contain keratin. This enables moths to consume clothing while also providing them with nutrition and moisture in dry habitats.
It prevents the caterpillar’s bodily fluids from drying out because it has waterproof skin that is covered in a layer of wax. But if this wax layer is broken, the caterpillar will quickly dry out and die.
How to Tell If There is Going to Have Moth Damage?
Moth eggs are extremely elusive because they are so tiny and frequently bury themselves deep within the fabric’s weave in loosely woven or knitted items. So, there are visual clues to tell if you have a problem with moths eating clothes and other home textiles:
- Are there any moth-related cases or thin, transparent webbing that resembles spun silk visible?
- Are the larvae visible? Typically between 1/4 and 1/2 inch long, with a brown head that resembles a small maggot (yes, we’re afraid so!)
- Can you spot any unwarranted holes or what appear to be small tears in the clothing?
- Can you also find rug or carpet piles that have been severely damaged, possibly with patches that are threadbare?
- Have you seen adult clothes moths flying (or more likely resting in dark places)?
How to Avoid & Prevent Moths Eating Clothes?
By using our guide, you can prevent moths from breeding and ensure that your cashmere always looks its best.
The moths are repelled to some extent by cedar blocks, but the larvae are unaffected. You must sand the wood’s surface every two to three months to renew the potent scent if you use cedar as a repellant to try to lower your chances of a moth infestation.
Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions to try to kill any eggs or larvae before putting winter clothing in storage bins. Clothes with food spills or stains on them are especially attractive to moths and their larvae.
If you want to get rid of eggs and larvae, another option is to put items in big plastic bags and freeze them. For seven to ten days, you must store them in your personal freezer.
Additionally, routine vacuuming can lessen your risk of developing a moth infestation. Additionally, you might want to think about using an attachment to vacuum your closet’s walls and any hanging clothes that won’t be put in storage.
Use Moth-repellent Products
We think the most effective way of preventing moths is by using a pheromone “Moth Box” together with a variety of anti-moth products.
The moth box is one of the best methods for catching moths because it draws in the males and traps them, breaking the females’ cycle of egg-laying. It enables you to keep tabs on the severity of the infestation.
Keep an eye out for signs of a moth infestation when inspecting the clothing. This may seem like an odd suggestion, but it is advised to occasionally put your sealed bags of cashmere in the freezer to prevent holes from forming if any eggs have been laid. The temperature below zero will also kill any pests that may have been present.
Your storage needs to be airtight to avoid clothing contaminated with larvae. However, you should also make sure that your clothing is kept in a way that prevents condensation from penetrating and leading to mold or mildew. For short-term and seasonal storage, vacuum-sealed bags or airtight storage containers lined with cotton work well.
What Time of Year Do Moths Eat Clothes?
During certain seasons of the year, moths are a common annoyance. They consume natural fibers like cotton, silk, and wool, which are used to make rugs, clothing, and other textiles. Moths may be active in your area during the spring, summer, or fall.
When temperatures rise enough for them to mate and lay eggs, adult moths typically start to emerge in late spring or early summer. After hatching into larvae, the eggs feed on clothing until they become fully grown.
Therefore, it is crucial to take preventative measures during these active months to safeguard your wardrobe from harm if you want to avoid having your clothes eaten by moths.
Conclusion: Stop Moths Eating Your Clothes
To obtain moisture to sustain themselves throughout their life cycle, the clothes moth caterpillars eat clothing. Since clothes moths lack tongues and cannot eat or drink, they are dependent on this early food source.
For signs of a moth infestation, always keep checking your cashmere knits. Always use the complimentary yarn sample that is included with every item of clothing to make a careful repair if you are unfortunate enough to find any tiny moth holes. You can also call us for more yarn or simply ask for our advice.
Should I Worry About Moths Eating My Clothes?
Clothing moths can do thousands of dollars in damage in your closets and throughout your home if they’re detected too late. You may need to shell out a lot of money for dry cleaning in addition to the damaged clothing that must be thrown out.
Why Do Moths Eat Cotton?
Larvae need sustenance to grow and pupate into adult moths, namely keratin, a sustenance found in animal fibers like cashmere, wool, fur, silk, and feathers (they’ll also eat cotton if there’s nothing better around).
Are Clothes Moths Killed by Washing?
It is possible to kill clothes moth larvae by washing your clothes, but this is probably not the best option for the kinds of clothing that are likely to be used as a food source. To eliminate moth larvae and eggs, the wash cycle must be run at the highest temperature; this setting is more frequently applied to white kinds of cotton.