Common household pests – Clothes Moths

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Self-isolating? Finally spring cleaning and rooting through draws of clothes and finding holes in items/ or insects?  These holes may have been caused by the larvae of the common clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella.

Clothes moth

Clothes moth larvae are notorious for feeding on clothing and natural fibres; they have the ability to turn keratin, a protein present in hair and wool, into food. They will feed on a wide range of textiles from carpets to cashmere The adults do not feed and are the reproductive life stage and may be seen in darker areas and not attracted to light as most other moth species.

These moths are small – only 5–8 mm long – and scuttle around, only flying when it’s warm. They shun light and hide in dark areas, laying batches of eggs on wool, fur, feathers and skins.

Each female lays up to 160 eggs during a period of 2-3 weeks. Eggs hatch in 10 days producing white translucent larva with a dark brown head. Can have between 5 and 45 growth stages, and will take from 30 days to 2 years to fully develop into an adult depending upon environmental conditions. Moisture will be taken from the air and reducing humidity of storage areas will slow development.

What can you do?

  • Keep all wardrobes and clothing areas aired. All affected clothing should be thoroughly cleaned (if the clothes will take it then 60°C is good, if not then dry cleaning is recommended).
  • Deep freeze small items to kill adults, eggs and larvae. Seal them in plastic ‘freezer’ bags at    -18°C for at least two weeks.
  • Regular inspections of clothing should be done, looking for holes, larvae etc.
  • Frequent use of a vacuum cleaner, in wardrobes, storage cupboards and on carpets can also help to reduce population numbers. Pay particular attention to gaps and cracks where fluff can accumulate. Please always remember, after using a vacuum, to remove the collection bag and dispose of in an outside bin.
  • Clothes, fabrics, and linens that are not in regular use, should be stored in a sealed bag or wrapped in plastic.
  • Examine wardrobes and drawers for larvae cases, moths, and damage. Larvae prefer to feed in secluded, dark places.
  • Look for signs of damage in carpets at the corners of the room and along edges, in stored clothing, and in other places not readily accessible.
  • Rugs, carpets and upholstery are best treated with a residual insecticide
  • Many of the old moth ball formulations are now banned or not recommended. Safer alternatives exist, like lavender (dried, sachets or gel products). But these are not effective on larvae.

Contact Rokill: 01425 482001 or

If your attempts to control these damaging insects are failing Rokill can assist you with professional monitoring and treatments to identify activity levels and whether efforts made are being effective at controlling activity

To locate old bird’s nests and remove them as often they are the source of moth infestation. These also give rise to a number of other pest species

Where necessary a residual insecticide can be applied to key areas for example wall/floor and ceiling floor junctions and around carpet edges.

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