Carpet and clothes moths eat mostly wool and silk. They like undisturbed and dark areas, they prefer clothes that have not been washed. The larvae do the damage unseen in the winter months, hatch into moths when it gets warm which then lay more eggs. If you see clothes moths flying in your house they will be from larvae, that have been in some wool or natural fibre in your house, hatching out. It’s unlikely they have come from outside.
What you can do to prevent moth damage
- Moths are mainly found in carpets, rugs and clothes but they can be in anything with a wool or animal fibre content like toys, sewing boxes or the stuffing of old upholstery.
- Moth damage on carpets often starts under furniture that is rarely moved, they don’t like being disturbed. . If you can vacuum ALL the carpet regularly you are less likely to have serious problems with moths.
- The Victorians would brush (or you can vacuum) clothes regularly for the same reasons
- Do not leave wool clothes stored for months without checking them. Washing, freezing or dry cleaning woolens in spring and storing them in sealed bags is a good idea.
- Moth traps work well and will give you an idea about how bad the problem is but they won’t eradicate all the moths. They are useful in isolating where the problem is. If you have traps in each room you can see from the trap which rooms may still have some clothes or fibre that contains larvae.
- If you find areas of damage spray them with an aerosol moth treatment but if you have a lot of damage to a carpet it is best to replace it.
- Never store wool rugs if they have not been moth proofed.
What we can do to prevent moths
- Periodic carpet cleaning helps to prevent moths, we always move as much furniture as possible so that the whole carpet is cleaned.
- We can treat carpets with a retardant, this is a harmless (not an insecticide) product that discourages moths by making the wool unpalatable to them.
- If there is damage we can spray rugs with an insecticide, people are understandably concerned about using insecticides in a domestic environment so we normally would do this in our workshop.
- There are companies that can fumigate the whole house but this is quite an extreme ( and expensive) measure.