Moths are usually outdoor creatures, and typically only come indoors at night when the windows are open and the lights on. If you have a lot of moths in your house, however, you may notice they tend to congregate in either your closet or pantry.
This is because certain moth species eat natural clothing fibers and stored foods, and these can be serious household pests. Clothes moths and pantry moths can ruin stored food and pricey clothing.
So how can you prevent them from getting in?
Clothes moths are household pests that usually infest closets, where their larvae feast on wool, silk, leather, feathers, and fur. The small, beige-colored moths are around half an inch long with narrow, fur-tipped wings.
Unlike many other moth species, these insects tend to avoid light and prefer to hide away in the dark, so infestations may go unnoticed for some time.
Adults clothes moths don’t actually cause any damage, but their larvae do! Once clothes moths start breeding, their fabric-eating offspring burrow into the folds of clothes to graze on natural fibers, creating holes and ‘grazed’ areas.
How do they get in?
Clothes moths usually get into your house by stowing away in clothing, furniture, and other second-hand goods. Always inspect new purchases carefully before putting them among your possessions, taking care to check the seams for signs of moth larvae.
Why are they a problem?
Clothes moths can easily ruin clothing, shoes, and accessories, and they don’t care how much you paid for that jacket. If you want to preserve your possessions, it’s important to be aware of the risk.
How to get rid of clothes moths
- Keep your clothes and closet clean: If you think you have clothes moths, the first thing you should do it give your closet a deep-clean. Pull everything out and get into the corners with a vacuum cleaner, wipe down all surfaces with detergent and launder your clothes. Infested items should either be discarded or placed in the freezer for 48 hours to kill larvae.
- Store vulnerable clothes securely: Items made of natural fabrics (like wool, silk, and leather) are the main target of clothes moths, so these items should be secured in plastic when not in use.
- Use cedarwood hangers: Studies have shown that cedar oil has an insecticidal effect against moths, and many people report that the mere presence of the wood can keep moths away. Therefore, using cedar wood hangers in your closet may help to prevent clothes moth infestations.
- Fumigate your closet: If you’re losing your battle against clothes moths, fumigation may be your best chance of getting rid of them once and for all.
Pantry moths (AKA Indian Meal moths) are very common household pests and, as their name suggests, are usually found in pantries and kitchen cupboards. Adult pantry moths lay their eggs in stored food products, where the larvae feed once they hatch. Pantry moth larvae feed on a wide variety of foods including grain, dried fruits, pet food, seeds, and spices.
How do they get in?
Pantry moths usually get into houses by hiding away in food products, which usually come from infested warehouses.
Why are they a problem?
Pantry moth adults lay their eggs in stored food products and, once they hatch, their larvae thrive on the food source. Not only do they eat up your grains and cereals, but the larvae also make webbing that can further contaminate products. Pantry moths aren’t toxic and they don’t carry diseases, but they can nonetheless ruin the foods they infest.
How to get rid of pantry moths
- Discard infested items: If you see adult moths flying around your cupboards or pantry, the first thing you must do is find and discard infested items. Look for larvae and webbing inside food containers and, if you find them, immediately throw them away in the outdoor trash.
- Deep-clean your pantry: Once you’ve gotten rid of all infested items, it’s time to get cleaning. This will remove any overlooked larvae or eggs. Pull everything out of your pantry, vacuum shelves, and the floor and wipe down all surfaces with hot, soapy water.
- Wash jars and containers in warm, soapy water: Make sure there are no more moths, eggs, or larvae in your pantry by emptying out all containers and washing them in warm, soapy water.
- Use bay leaves to prevent further infestations: Bay leaves are thought to repel pantry moths and may help to prevent reinfestation. Once your pantry and containers are clean and moth-free, place bay leaves in the corners of your cupboards or pantry to keep moths at bay.
- Store food securely: The best way to keep pantry moths out of your food is to secure it properly. Keep all stored foods in sealed, airtight containers to stop bugs from getting in.
Other types of moths
Most moths live outdoors and have little reason to invade houses. However, many moth species are drawn to light, so leaving your windows open in the evening is bound to attract them.
Either keep windows and doors closed in the evening, or install bug screens to keep moths (and other insects) out.
Pantry moths and clothes moths are two common household pests that can cause extensive damage to clothes and stored food products.
Clothes moths are usually found in closets, where their larvae feed on natural fibers (like wool, silk, leather, fur, and feathers). Pantry moths typically infest cupboards and pantries, where their larvae feast on grains, seeds, pet food, cereals, and other stored food products.
Both species are a nuisance, and can potentially cause serious damage to food stores and clothing items. The best way to prevent these kinds of household pests is to keep your closet and pantry spotlessly clean. Infested items should either be discarded (in the case of food) or placed in the freezer to kill larvae (in the case of fabrics).