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Elimination

Keeping clothes in cedar chests does not completely protect them from clothes moths. It may ward off adults but will not eliminate older larvae. You should always closely inspect your clothes before putting them away.

One way to handle moth infestation is to brush the infested clothes and fabric outdoors. This will dislodge the larvae and break the eggs. You can also expose the infested clothes to sub-zero temperatures for two days or to direct sunlight for 2 to 3 hours in the summer in order to kill off the larvae.

If you are dealing with a major infestation, we recommend applying Maheu&Maheu Insecticide Dust or Maheu&Maheu Crawling Insect Killer along baseboards, in closets, on carpets, and under furniture.

Pheromone traps are also helpful, employing sexual hormones to trap males, thus breaking the reproduction cycle. It is important to properly identify the moth, however, as the pheromones are species-specific.

Actions

  • Vacuum the insides of drawers and wardrobes (empty receptacle/dispose of bag)
  • Set out pheromone glue traps
  • Spray or treat cracks and crevices with an insecticide in rooms where moths have been seen

Prevention

  • Put clothes away clean
  • Vacuum regularly and air out clothing and bedding
  • Meticulously inspect any merchandise containing natural fibres brought into the house

Description and development

The two most widely encountered species of clothes moths are the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella ) and the webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella ). Generally known simply as "moths," they are holometabolic insects in the order Lepidoptera and the family Tineidae.

Casemaking clothes moth larvae spin silken cocoons in which they undergo metamorphosis. They carry this case throughout the larval stage of their life. Webbing clothes moths does not carry such a case, making it easy to distinguish between the two species at the larval stage. They also leave behind a trail of silk as they move and can spin silken tunnels in which to feed.
In both cases, females lay their eggs (40 to 50) on fabric, piles of dust, or animal carcasses. The eggs stick onto the target and hatch 4 to 10 days later. The larval stage lasts 30 to 40 days. Larvae can reach lengths of 13 mm. The pupal stage lasts 8 to 40 days in some cases. Adults live for 15 to 30 days. The full life cycle takes 6 to 12 months.

Habits

Clothes moths feed on various types of fabric, fur, pet food, milk powder, mounted animals, hair, woolen articles, carpet, drapery, etc. They have a preference for dirty clothes. If they have to decide between a sugar-stained tablecloth and a clean shirt, the choice will be clear.

Clothes moths shy away from light. So if you see butterflies congregating around a light source, rest assured: they are not clothes moths.

Photos published with the authorization of photographer Claude Pilon

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