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Carpet moths

Posted on May 20, 2017 by Nikki Palmer in Blog

Hands up everyone that recognises one of these little blighters but haven’t had a clue what they are other than an irritating little flying thing!

The bad news is that these are Carpet Moths and they can do endless damage to carpets, curtains and clothing which all contain natural products.

The good news is that with a bit of patience, they can be eradicated before they do too much damage.

Damage to fabrics and materials is caused only by the moth larvae (grubs), the adult moths do not feed.  The tiny white larvae eat holes through susceptible materials.  Carpet moth larvae preferentially feed on natural products such as cotton, silk, wool, feathers, fur, hair, leather and upholstered furniture.  Larvae will also feed on lint, dust and paper products.  They can feed on mixtures of natural and synthetic fibres, but cannot feed on materials made only from synthetic fibres. In nature, clothes moths infest pollen, hair, dead insects and dried animal remains.

Unlike other species, carpet moths don’t fly towards light. Instead, they will quite happily spend months concealed in dark wardrobes, under furniture and in dark corners where they can breed in peace.

The adult female, which is around a centimetre long and an easily-camouflaged silvery-brown, will lay her eggs, which resemble rice grains, on clothing fibres.   Females lay around 40 eggs over a three–week period, then die, although males can mate throughout their full life cycle.

It takes only a few days for eggs to hatch, then they remain as larvae for up to two years, munching away at whatever natural fibres they can find.

Sadly with more homes having central heating and our increasing urge to buy vintage and charity shop clothing,  plus our busy lifestyles, the problem is increasing.  A quick run around with the hoover isn’t going to solve the problem and thorough cleaning around and underneath all of your furniture and inside wardrobes could be the only answer, followed up by the use of a Carpet Moth Spray, powder, certain mothballs or pheromone cards, all of which can help eradicate these pests and all available from hardware stores or Amazon.

Other suggestions are :-

  • Turn off the heating as soon as possible and open your windows to get some fresh air in
  • Keep all secondhand clothing/fabric purchases in a well sealed bag until you get the opportunity to give them a good wash.  Remember, that if you have carpet moths and donate to charity shops it is just as likely that when buying clothes from them that you could inadvertently bring them into your home without realising it.
  • A powerful vacuum can shift eggs from fibres, but you’ll need to remove the collected dust or hoover bags from the house immediately, or, having hatched inside the machine and merrily feasted on the dust, they’ll simply fly out again.  It is vital to vacuum regularly under beds,  carpets and behind radiators to prevent moths from getting too comfortable.
  • Clothes and soft furnishings will all benefit from having a good shake out in the fresh air, and if you spot an infestation in your clothing be sure to wash everything thoroughly on a hot wash in order to kill off the eggs and larvae.  Once clean, the best way to store clothes is in sealed plastic bags.  Remember, the more cluttered your wardrobe, the more likely it is that you are providing an ongoing buffet meal for them!  Other suggestions found to be successful have been to freeze all your clothes or put them in bin bags in a hot car!!  I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I have much space in my freezer for an entire wardrobe  🙂

The point of this blog is two-fold – (1) Many people do not realise when they see these little moths flying around what damage they can do, and once spotted, every attempt should be made to eradicate them.  (2) If you are in a rental property there is a possibility that if it goes unreported to your Landlord or Agent then you could be liable for damage caused to carpets.

As a Letting Agent it is an important part of inspecting a rental property to ensure there is not already an established infestation  before new Tenants move in.  It may cost around £100-£150 to get a whole house treated but this is considerably less than having to replace all the carpets!

Happy Spring Cleaning everyone 🙂


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