Why do moths want to eat clothes

Fight clothes moths - this is how you recognize and eliminate the pests

In winter you want to take out your thick cashmere sweater, which in summer has wandered into the farthest corner of your wardrobe. But what is it? Small irregular holes run through the wool sweater! Everything indicates an infestation with clothes moths. Do the right thing now so that the pests don't destroy other favorite items of clothing. Here you can find out how to effectively fight the voracious clothes moths.

Where do the clothes moths come from?

In nature, the larvae of clothes moths live in the nests of birds and mammals, where they feed on keratin found in animal hair and feathers. However, the clothes moth, which is widespread all over the world, can easily get lost in human dwellings. An increased flight time can be seen between May and September, which is why the moths enter apartments and houses particularly frequently during these months. But also about old ones Carpets, blankets or used upholstered furniture the eggs and larvae of the clothes moth can be introduced into your home.

Once the moths are in the house, the danger does not come from the adult butterflies. These only live about 18 days once they have emerged from the cocoon and will not nibble on your clothes. Because of its stunted mouth parts, the moth can no longer ingest any food. However, the fertilized females prefer to lay their eggs - 200 to 250 pieces at a time - in dark, dry and warm places, such as your wardrobe. The voracious larvae, which are after your clothes, hatch from these at room temperature after around 14 days. Synthetic fabrics or vegetable fibers like cotton are not as much at risk. The larvae of the clothes moth are more interested in clothing made from animal products - including mixed fabrics: Wool, fur, feathers, down or leather are on your menu because it also contains keratin. After a good three months, the larvae pupate, the moths hatch from the cocoon, mate and the cycle starts all over again - if you don't break it.

How to recognize the infestation with clothes moths

The clothes moth measures only six to ten millimeters. The light yellow to brownish, shiny pests are therefore not really easy to see with the naked eye. If you suspect that moths have lodged in your closet, for example because you discovered individual holes in some items of clothing, proceed as follows to identify a possible infestation:

  1. Take a close look at all of your clothes, especially those made from animal products. Look for small, irregular holes or bald spots in the textiles. Often, however, you can recognize a moth infestation by a collection of several holes in a small space. Also, when viewed under a microscope, the edges of the holes are smooth and not fibrous. Also check carpets, blankets, curtains and upholstered furniture, especially the hard-to-reach areas such as the sofa or the back or lower sides.
  2. Examine the clothes and also the entire closet Web of moth larvae. These are white, thin threads that either hang directly on clothing or are in dark corners and cracks in the closet or on furniture.
  3. You are sure to go with me Pheromone traps for clothes moths from specialist retailers. These sticky traps attract the male moths through the species-specific natural sexual attractants of the female moth, i.e. pheromones. They stick to the traps and die. However, the possibly already fertilized females are not attracted by the pheromones. So they can continue to spread unhindered in the apartment and lay their eggs. Pheromone traps are therefore only suitable for diagnosing a pest infestation, but not for combating it.

Note: Pheromone traps can also become moth magnets and attract even more butterflies into the house. The males are magically attracted by the pheromones. So keep the windows closed when setting the traps.

Above all, wool textiles are the preferred target of clothing moths.

Fight clothes moths effectively - these tips will help

Has the Suspicion confirms that clothes moths have nested in your closet, it is important to act quickly so that other textiles are not affected.

    • Washing textiles: Wash all textiles for which the care label allows it at at least 50 degrees. The clothes moths cannot survive such high temperatures. With wool, silk or other delicate fabrics, however, you have to take other measures.
    • Freezing: Clothes moths don't tolerate the cold either. You should therefore freeze textiles that you cannot machine wash at high temperatures for at least a week at around minus 20 degrees in the freezer or refrigerator. In contrast to great heat, the cold does not harm the sensitive fabrics. It is best to pack the clothing in a plastic bag or something similar before storing it in the freezer.
    • Off into the sun: Large textiles such as carpets, curtains or upholstered furniture are best placed outside in the blazing sun in summer, because this is also how the moth eggs and larvae die. If this option is not available to you or the furniture is particularly sensitive to light, blow-dry the affected objects on the hottest setting with a hair dryer. While this may be a bit of a hassle, it is the most likely way of catching all of the pests. Note: You should not blow-dry leather sofas, as this can warp the material.
    • Cleaning the wardrobe: Once all items of clothing have been stowed in the washing machine or in the freezer, the wardrobe or chest of drawers must be cleaned thoroughly before you fill the furniture with fresh laundry. First, vacuum your closet well. To clean it thoroughly afterwards, a vinegar cleaner is particularly suitable. Put this undiluted on a microfiber cloth and wipe the entire cabinet with it. Then clean it with warm soapy water. If your wardrobe has shelves, remove them and clean the space underneath.
    • Clean the entire room: You should then thoroughly clean the entire infested room, including clearing, vacuuming and wiping the cupboards and chests of drawers in which you have not found the nest of the clothes moth. In doing so, you should also pay attention to the areas that you might skip during normal house cleaning. This includes cabinet cracks, skirting boards, radiators and areas that are hidden by furniture.
    • Hair dryer for problem areas: You can use the hairdryer again to remove gaps, cracks, tears, voids and holes from clothes moths. As with the textiles before, this time blow-dry the areas that cannot be easily reached by hand. Set your hair dryer to the hottest setting so that the moth eggs and larvae are destroyed by the heat.
    • Follow-up check: At the end of the cleaning, make sure you have actually gotten rid of all of the clothes moths and their nests. The best way to check this is to set up pheromone traps that are suitable for clothes moths in the affected room, especially near the cupboards and textiles.

      Make lavender bags yourself

      You can get lavender sachets in retail stores or online - but you can also easily make them yourself.

      1. You only need dried lavender flowers, a cotton or linen cloth, for example a handkerchief, a cord or a cloth ribbon and a pair of scissors.
      2. The best time to pick the lavender blossoms from your garden or pot is between June and August.
      3. Then hang them up to dry with the flower facing down for at least a week.
      4. Fill the dried flowers into a cut piece of fabric, about 10 x 20 centimeters.
      5. Tie the cloth at all corners with the cord or ribbon and hang or put it in your wardrobe. The lavender sachets have a fragrance for up to two years.

      This is how you prevent a new moth infestation

      Anyone who has successfully fought the clothes moths once does not want to have them in the apartment again. With these tips you can prevent a new moth infestation:

      • It helps if you clear and rearrange, clean and ventilate your wardrobe twice a year. This will prevent your clothes from resting in the same place in the closet for years. You can use this opportunity to examine the textiles for new holes and bald spots to find out whether moths have nested again.
      • Only store freshly washed clothes in the closet. The smell of sweat, skin or hair flakes that accumulate on clothes that have already been worn attract clothes moths more strongly.
      • The pests, on the other hand, do not like other smells at all: Put lavender bags or cedar wood in the closet to keep clothes moths away. The fragrances are natural and, unlike chemical mothballs or paper, are harmless to health.
      • You can protect particularly expensive items of clothing such as cashmere sweaters by hanging them in a plastic garment bag in the closet.

      Clothes without moths

      Usually, you don't need to resort to mothballs or use outside professional help to drive clothes moths away. In the case of insensitive textiles whose care label allows, hot washing removes the moth eggs and larvae. Freezing temperatures or strong sunlight also help to get rid of the pests as well as their larvae and eggs. It is also important to carefully clean the affected room, especially the wardrobe. And so that nothing happens to your favorite wool sweater in the first place, it is best to take protective measures and store it in a plastic clothing bag in the closet.

Disclaimer OTTO (GmbH & Co KG) assumes no liability for the correctness, topicality, completeness, effectiveness and harmlessness of the information and recommendations made available on updated.de. It is expressly pointed out that the official manufacturer's specifications are to be observed with priority over all other information and recommendations and only these can guarantee a safe and proper use of the respective purchase items.

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