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Webbing Cloth Moth

Clothes moths are well-known as pests of stored woolens, but they will eat a wide range of other fibers including hair, fur, silk, felt and feathers. Serious infestations of clothes moths can develop undetected in a home, causing significant damage to clothing, bedding, floor coverings and other articles.

 

Clothes moths are small (about 1/2-inch), buff-colored moths. Two different species are common in Kentucky, the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth. The webbing clothes moth is uniformly buff-colored, whereas the casemaking clothes moth is similar in appearance but has indistinct dark specks on the wings.

Clothes moths are seldom seen because they avoid light. They prefer dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, basements and attics, and tend to live in corners or in folds of fabric. If you do see tiny moths flying about in the kitchen and other open areas, they are probably grain moths originating from some infested cereal, flour or stored food item. Clothes moth adults do not feed so they cause no injury to fabrics. However, the adults produce eggs which hatch into the fabric-eating larvae.

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"The First Day, One is a GUEST, the Second, a BURDEN, and the Third, a PEST"

- Anonymous

The best way to avoid problems with clothes moths is through prevention. Woolens and other susceptible fabrics should be dry cleaned or laundered before being stored for long periods. Cleaning kills any eggs or larvae that may be present and also removes perspiration odors that are attractive to the pests.

Standard household insecticides should not be used to treat clothing; however, mothproofing solutions may be applied to susceptible clothing by professional dry cleaners. Valuable garments such as furs can also be protected from clothes moths by storing them in cold vaults (a service offered by some furriers and department stores).

Controlling existing infestations of clothes moths requires patience and a thorough inspection to locate all potential sources of infestation. The source may be an old woolen scarf in the back of a closet, a fur hat in a box, or a remnant of wool carpeting up in the attic. Even piano or organ felts may be the source. Infested items should be thrown out, laundered or dry cleaned.

Insecticide applications directed into infested areas are often useful as a supplement to good housekeeping. Products containing active ingredients such as pyrethrum, allethrin, chlorpyrifos and permethrin are effective. Sprays may be applied to carpets (especially along and beneath the edge adjacent to the baseboard), underneath furniture and other likely areas of infestation where prolonged contact with humans is unlikely. Clothing and bedding should not be sprayed with household insecticides and should be removed before treatment.