Proven organic strategies for clothes moth control and prevention.
Common throughout the United States, the larval stage of the clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) attacks clothing, carpets, furs, blankets, upholstery, piano felts, brush bristles and all kinds of other items.
Note: Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration or urine are most subject to damage. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool.
Damaged fabrics have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae (1/2 inch long) and often have silken threads or tunnels, and fecal pellets over the surface of the materials. Adults are about 1/4 inch long with their wings folded and have a wingspread of about 1/2 inch. They are golden-yellow with a satiny sheen and reddish golden hairs on top of the head. Adult moths avoid light and attempt to hide when disturbed.
The adult clothes moth lives 10-28 days, but does not feed. Females lay 40-100 eggs, which generally hatch in 3-21 days. Larvae live 35 days or more and will wander some distance away from their food source to pupate in crevices. The pupal case is silken with bits of fiber and excrement attached to the outside. The life cycle is 65 to 90 days at ordinary household temperatures. Two generations per year.
Clothes Moth Control
- Vacuum cracks, crevices and other breeding areas in floors and closets.
- Clean fabrics prior to storing and keep in sealed containers. If you cannot place items in sealed containers, use repellents to deter these pests.
- Pheromone traps are helpful for detecting the presence of egg laying adults as well as for preventing them.
- Bt-kurstaki and boric acid are proven effective against the larvae.
- Manage rodents with traps or repellents instead of poisons as inaccessible carcasses can become a source for larvae.