Moths are a common problem for the modern household. Their eggs and larvae enter our homes on clothing, food, or other materials and once they’re in, they like to stay. When you think of moths, you often think of them fluttering around lights and under lampshades, but an infestation tends to begin in dark, cosy spaces like wardrobes, cupboards and attics. Despite a reported decrease in moth populations in the UK, pest control enquiries relating to moths have been on the rise for the past few years. As one of East Anglia’s leading pest control companies, we’ve dealt with plenty of moth problems and have identified the telltale signs of an infestation.
Holes in clothing and fabric
Moths have been an enduring enemy of nice clothing. Moths are notorious for chewing through garments and leaving unsightly holes in them, and this is one of the most obvious signs of an infestation. The species of moth known as common clothes moth, given its name for this very reason, is the main culprit here. Clothes moths have a diet that consists of fabrics made from animal fibres, such as leather, fur, silk, felt, and most commonly, wool. The materials contain a fibrous protein called keratin, the same protein that makes up human hair and nails, which provides sustenance to moths and their larvae.
Carpet moths cause similar damage to rugs and carpets, again targeting those made from animal products like wool and silk. They’ll often concentrate their efforts on the fluffier, softer parts of a rug or carpet as opposed to the well-trodden areas. Therefore, the areas that are most at risk are under furniture like sofas and chairs since they’re dark and undisturbed. These areas also serve as a good place for moths to lay their eggs. Noticing damage to your carpets is a strong indication of a carpet moth infestation.
Holes in food packaging
Another telltale sign of a moth infestation is finding holes in the food packaging kept in your cupboards. The food items at the greatest risk are dried foods such as nuts, grains, flour, and cereal. There are several types of moth that will typically go after food, and for this reason, they’re often called ‘food moths’ or ‘pantry moths’.
As with all the signs we mention in the article, once you notice them, it’s too late. Seeing holes in your food packaging means that you already have a moth problem. It also means that it’s best not to eat the food that’s in damaged packaging and throw it out straight away.
We’ve covered the signs of moth activity, now we’re covering sightings of the moths themselves, albeit unhatched moths. Moths eggs are incredibly small and difficult to spot. They’ll usually be found on soft, undisturbed fabrics that contain keratin, such as old clothing that’s never worn or inaccessible areas of carpet. The reason being that the larvae can hatch safely and immediately feed on the keratin-based material.
Moth eggs are white in colour and often covered in a kind of webbing which keeps them stuck to the aforementioned materials. There will be a large number of them together in a cluster – you’ll never find just one on its own. It’s unlikely that you’ll spot them unless you’re doing some deep cleaning or are actively looking for moth activity, but it’s worth knowing what to look for.
Larvae and cocoons
Moths are similar to butterflies in that they have larvae (or caterpillars) that build themselves a cocoon in which they stay before emerging as fully-grown moths. Moth larvae will stay very close to their eggs and will spend approximately six months feeding and staying protected by the warm, dark materials their eggs were laid in. During this time, the bulk of the damage to your clothing and carpets occurs.
Much like moth eggs, larvae are very small and difficult to spot. They’re a pale, translucent colour and they take on the colour of whatever food they’re eating. Therefore, they’ll blend in with their surroundings and will be virtually impossible to find unless you’re actively looking for them.
Cocoons are slightly larger than the larvae but a similar colour – pale and fairly translucent. If you notice random holes in your garments, look around for moth larvae and cocoons because they probably won’t be far away.
If you’ve noticed any of the things we’ve mentioned here then there’s a very good chance that you have a moth infestation. If this is the case, then get in touch with us now. We are pest control experts with a great deal of experience dealing with moths, especially in East Anglia. For more information about how we deal with moths, visit our textile insects control page.