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Information & Advice About Clothes Moths

Fact Sheet: Tineola bisselliella, Webbing Clothes Moth (Family: Tineidae) 

Description: A serious pest of natural fibre based products such as clothes, curtains and carpets. Larvae consume the fibres, causing the characteristic webbing and leading to the destruction of the fabric.  
 
Adult moths breed and lay eggs that hatch into the larvae, which in turn cause the damage to fabric, especially wool. There may be multiple generations per annum, depending on location and climate.  
 
Control: The first step to control of a moth infestation is housekeeping. Before treatment, all carpets and upholstery should be thoroughly vacuumed, and clutter and debris should be reduced to a minimum. This may expose unknown sources of infestation, as well as greatly enhancing effectiveness of the treatment.  
 
In cases of infestation of clothing or loose fabrics, these should be washed on the hottest setting possible for the fabric, or otherwise dry cleaned.  Where neither method is possible, the fabric should be sealed in plastic bags until treatment in the premises is complete. Placement of the fabrics in a freezer for 24 hours may also be effective in destroying eggs and larvae. 
 
Insecticide spray: A residual insecticide spray is recommended. Protector C residual insecticide is manufactured from natural pyrethrum, and therefore lethally effective against insects but with little or no risk to humans or mammals.  Alternatively, Oa2ki organic insect killer spray is also highly effective against flying and crawling insects but has contains no toxic chemicals at all. 
 
Fumigation: Mini fumer smoke generators offer a DIY fumigation method based on natural pyrethrum, which is highly effective against a wide range of insects.  A very useful alternative for treating areas where the use of a wet spray is not practical or desirable, such as loft voids, cupboards, wardrobes and small rooms.

Trapping: Pheromone monitor traps are designed to attract, kill and remove adult male moths, to monitor infestations, and to provide control over smaller infestations by breaking the breeding cycle.

Traps should be placed on shelving, or hung up where the materials to be monitored are kept. One trap should be sufficient to monitor a single confined space, such as a wardrobe. For larger areas, one trap per 10m3 should be used. 
 
Note: Tineola is the most important moth pest attacking fabrics but other pests are known to occur. 

Images from Wikimedia Commons (from top): Olaf Leilinger, Guido Gerding