Nobody likes sharing their home with insects any more than necessary but we tend to feel even more strongly about this when said insects are taking it upon themselves to eat all our clothes. This is precisely what happens when you have an infestation of clothes moths, which is why it’s so important to get rid of them quickly. Here we will look at how to identify a clothes moths infestation, and how to drive them out of your home without compromising your health in the process.
Signs of Clothes Moths
The most obvious sign that you have a moth problem is moths. If you notice moths on your walls or flying around your room most days, then there are probably even more that you can’t see so it’s a good idea to begin the hunt. Carpet moths are light brown in colour, quite small (up to an inch or two long) and have three pairs of legs.
Another tell-tale sign is the presence of tiny white ‘flakes’ on your carpet around the same size as the moths themselves. These flakes are the chrysalises of the moths that they left behind when they went through their metamorphosis. You might also notice small black droppings or the tiny, white and thin maggot-like larvae that wiggle around on the floor or on your fabrics.
Finally, clothes moths will sometimes chew through clothes and also through your carpet exposing the mesh underneath. If you notice any of these symptoms then it’s time to get serious.
Moths and Your Health
Moths themselves are not particularly unhygienic. While you probably would rather not think of them squirming and multiplying under your bed while you sleep, they won’t actually spread disease in the way that other infestations do and they don’t bite either.
What can be less good for your health however are the various methods you might use to get rid of them. Moth balls and pesticides are especially poisonous which means you’re effectively lacing your own home with toxic substances – far from ideal.
Specifically moth balls contain one of two chemicals in most cases: naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene. Studies have shown that these chemicals can lead to haemolytic anemia (a lack of iron caused by the breakdown of red blood cells) and even cataracts. Paradichlorobenzene meanwhile is a carcinogen and both can cause irritation of the skin, infection and headaches. Children in particular are highly susceptible to these effects, and while no-one is really likely to keel over as a result of moth balls, wouldn’t you rather avoid using toxic substances in your home and on your clothes?
How to Get Rid of Moths Safely
So if moth balls are so potentially harmful, what can you do to safely address the issue? Are you doomed to wearing clothes covered in holes? Perhaps you could try and make a fashion statement out of it…
Fortunately there’s no need to go that far. For starters, you can always use cedar balls instead which have a scent that is similarly harmful to moths without being too damaging for us humans. They aren’t quite as strong which means adult moths can become immune, but as preventative measure it’s a good place to start. Likewise you can also use herbs like lemongrass and mint – which will help your clothes to smell fresh rather than creating that awful ‘granny’ smell you get from other moth balls.
Another option is to use moth repellent sprays. These aren’t particularly healthy themselves, but they tend to be much faster acting and don’t linger in the same way. You can spray these around your room then and kill off a lot of moths, only returning to the room once you’ve left it to air for a while (do be sure to do this). Another option is to burn a ‘moth candle’ which will effectively do the same thing by releasing fumes that moths don’t like into the room and killing them off.
You can also get moth traps which work by using pheromones to attract the moths and then sticking them to a sticky tape. These take a few weeks to do the job and it can be tricky knowing when it’s safe to remove them again. Moths like warm weather, so turning the heating off for a bit and then airing your rooms can also be a good way to drive them out. Note that only a pesticide specifically aimed at killing moths is likely to work, so avoid any sprays with pictures of mosquitos on and the like.
A Mega Clean
Also important is to simply give your rooms a big clean making sure to vacuum and wash all your fabrics. Take everything out from under your bed then vacuum under there especially as you’ll often find this is where they like to hide. Likewise it’s a good idea to empty out your clothes cupboards and to vacuum inside there, throw out clothes you don’t need, and wash any you’re worried about on a high setting to kill off the moths. Make sure that once you’ve done this, you also empty out your vacuum cleaner to ensure they don’t make it back out again afterwards (or start multiplying in there!).
If you’re worried about your clothes in the meantime, consider using some sealed plastic bags to keep them safe from chewing. Natural fibres are the biggest risk. And if all else fails? Then call in the professionals, you may even find that your local council pays for it, and at least this way you know you can be certain that the job has been done safely and properly. It may be expensive in some cases, but if you’re going to have to replace your carpet anyway and still aren’t sure that will get rid of them, then you’re probably better off paying for that one expense than dealing with the on-going stress of having all your fabrics ruined.
Just don’t resort to using poisonous moth balls that can damage your health and won’t be guaranteed to solve the problem!