Everything You Need to Know About a Moth Infestation


February 3, 2019

Does it seem like you’re swatting moths in your house on a regular basis? Have you noticed the telltale signs of irregular holes in some of your clothing? If so, you might be dealing with a moth infestation. 

Though moths are attracted to light, they often lay eggs in dark places such as pantries or closets. If you don’t know what signs to look out for, you may not discover you have a moth problem until it is too late.

Read on to find out if you have a moth infestation, and what you can do about it.

moths swarming around an outdoor light

How Moths Get In

You may see moths attracted to your outdoor lights at night, but these are not the types of moths usually invade the home. Most moth infestations come from the pantry moth or clothes moths.

The most common way to contract a moth infestation is by carrying infected items into the home. Food and clothing items that have larvae or eggs hiding within them can introduce a moth problem when you least expect it.

Unsealed containers in our pantries are perfect targets for pantry months. These insects can lay eggs where they are most likely to be fed and nurtured, such as in grains and flour.

In our closets, moths feed on natural fabrics like leather, wool, and silk. Their eggs can hatch and survive on these items, using the fibers for food and protection.

Signs of Infestation

Clothes moths and pantry moths each leave being telltale signs of their habitation. Here are the signs you need to watch for.

Clothes Moths

  • Silky furrows, tunnels, or trenches found on wool clothing and fabrics. 
  • Irregular holes in clothing
  • Furs that shed excessively
  • Tiny tubes stuck to fabric, which are larvae casings
  • Crusty deposits on rugs, drapes, and clothing
  • Small cream-colored moths appearing in flight or crawling on surfaces

Pantry Months

  • Small holes in plastic food bags
  • Eggs or larvae inside food packages
  • Web-like material inside pantry corners
  • Small, drab-colored moths crawling or flying

Even if you’ve only seen a small pantry moth or two, chances are these moths have laid eggs in your dry goods or have hatched from within them. Especially in the case of spilled or unsealed and old pantry items, you may not know moth larvae have been proliferating over time.

What To Do If You Have A Moth Infestation

If you’ve discovered signs of moths in your house, there are steps you can take to curb infestation. 

  • For pantry months, you must remove all food items from the pantry and clean it completely. Throwing out anything unsealed is the safest route, as pantry months can chew through the thin store packaging and deposit their eggs in store-bought food.

  • Inspect all food items carefully, especially grains, beans, nuts, spices, and cereal. Signs of larvae include clumping, webbing inside of boxes and bag creases, and discoloration.

  • You can freeze them for two days to kill eggs and larvae, but the infant stages of the insects are small and hard to detect. 

  • Use a crevice attachment to vacuum all pantry areas, especially corners. Wash all surfaces with warm and soapy water to remove food and moth residue. Finish with a half-vinegar, half-water wipe down.

  • Seal unspoiled food in a plastic tote to monitor for further signs of moths. After a week of an empty pantry, transfer all pantry items into glass or heavy plastic containers to avoid re-contamination. 

  • For clothes moths, remove all clothing and shake vigorously to dislodge any loose larvae. Launder clothing and linens on hot to kill any remaining insects. Fabric that cannot be washed must be sealed in a bag and frozen overnight, or thrown out.

  • Clean and vacuum the inside of all clothing storage areas. Light the area well and inspect for signs of moths, taking care to wipe down walls and clean away any webbing. 

  • You may think about adding mothballs to your closet areas, but they only work well in sealed environments. Adding a few to your closet will have little effect, and may give your clothes an unpleasant odor.

Prevention

  • To prevent infestations in the first place, take care to store your food in air-tight containers. New food items from the store can be carefully inspected and wiped down to ensure nothing is present on the outside of the packaging.

  • Empty and clean your pantry on a regular basis to keep it clear of food debris that can attract pests. Use older items first to keep food rotating out of the pantry instead of sitting for long periods.

  • For closets, keeping them uncluttered and clean can eliminate places pests can hide. Wash soiled clothing in a timely fashion, to eliminate oils and odors moths are attracted to.

  • Seal seasonal clothing and little-used linens in storage bins or bags. Rotate items in your closet regularly, and get rid of those collecting dust that are rarely used. Hanging is better than folding, as larvae prefer piles of folded fabric they can hide in.

Need Help With Your Moth Infestation?

Even if you’ve followed all the steps outlined above, you may still find yourself struggling with moths in the home. If re-infestation occurs, repeat these guidelines.

Should you need professional help, Reynolds Pest Management is here to assist you. If an infestation has progressed, contact our experts who can make an action plan and use professional-grade sprays and deterrents to get you moth-free in no time.

Contact us today for a free estimate on moth infestation removal. We offer financing options, so treating your home doesn’t have to break the bank.

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