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Fighting clothes moths: tips and tricks against infestation

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Fighting clothes mites: This is how you recognize an infestation – and take action against it

Moths eat holes in clothes

Round moth holes in clothing are typical for infestation

Likes to eat textiles: Clothes moths love wool, but they don’t stop at mixed fabrics either. However, what many do not know is that it is not their larvae that are causing the damage.

The clothes moth is a butterfly, but – from a purely visual point of view – it has nothing in common with its brightly decorated relatives. On the contrary: the butterfly has yellow or brown wings folded on its back as a glossy roof. A full-fledged moth measures only six to nine millimeters in length, and its eggs are barely visible to the naked eye. However, their presence does not go unnoticed for long once they attack a regularly worn piece of clothing. Because caterpillars eat small circular holes in textiles. Then you can be sure of the presence of clothes moths in the apartment. And why pests like to eat clothes and how to get rid of them we summarize below.

This is why clothes moths love textiles

As mentioned at the beginning, it is not the clothes moth that feeds on textiles, but their larvae – this is for the following reasons: they need keratin in order to grow. And this is in animal hair, not only wool, but also skin and fur. Clothes made of purely vegetable and synthetic materials (including linen or cotton) do not usually appear on your list. It cannot be digested by the larvae. The same goes for paper and wood. In nature, larvae are found in bird nests or mammal breeding grounds and accordingly feed on animal hairs there.

Since clothes moths react strongly to the smell of wool, fur, and leather (or sweat), they also fly into many homes. Gravity is so great that it presses through every crack, no matter how small, to reach the textiles. In summer, of course, pests have particularly easy game when the windows are open: the female can lay from 100 to 250 eggs, the larvae hatch after two weeks and pupate after three months – preferably in a warm, dry and dark place. They occur in the closet, in holes or crevices. After about 60 days, it sometimes takes several months, then turns into a butterfly and then lives only 18 days.

This is how you can fight clothes moths

The tricky thing about the clothes moth is that its flight time lasts from May to September – that is, all summer when most windows are open day and night. In addition, four complete generations can be followed in one year by only one female butterfly. These are loads of eggs and hungry larvae. If you notice a possible infestation of your textiles, you can fight clothes moths with the following home remedies:

classic trap

non-toxic glue traps They contain the so-called pheromones, that is, the sexual attractions of men’s clothing moths. The insects stick to the surface of the gum and die there so they can no longer fertilize the female moths. The trap is effective for up to three months and can be erected, hung or taped. Preferably in a dark place free of clouds, such as a wardrobe with a height of two meters. Keep room windows closed to avoid attracting more moths from outside.

natural defense

Back to the moth’s natural defense lavender bags. They are simply placed in the cupboard and give off a pleasant smell that moths do not like. The same goes for things that are left in their natural state the rice – Here there are special loops that you can attach to the hangers. Wood not only removes clothes moths, but also absorbs odors and moisture. By sanding the rings regularly, the wood retains its effectiveness for several months.

biological control

Parasitic wasps They are natural enemies of the clothes moth – and can be used as a kind of biological weapon: the insects are only a few millimeters in size and target the eggs of the moth. It is best to place wasp eggs delivered in the form of small cards next to the clothes or just above them so that the animals reach their destination as quickly as possible. If there are no more clothes mites, the parasitic wasps automatically disappear again. Repeat the process three times.

heat and cold

Clothes moths like to be dry and warm, but they don’t tolerate heat — or cold. For this reason, all textiles that may be infected should be set at 60°to wash. On the other hand, you can store fine items of clothing made of wool, leather or silk in a plastic bag in freezerStore for several days. Or you can take a small piece of leftover wool, put it in a box, cut a hole in it, and wash the wool in hot water after a week to kill the eggs.

Fight clothes moths

Clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) looks very overgrown

© ConstantinCornel / Getty Images

Preventing clothes moths: this is how it works

You can take preventative measures to prevent clothes moths from nesting in your closets and damaging your textiles. This applies not only to your clothes, but also to carpets and upholstered furniture where pests do not stop (provided that it contains wool, leather or fur). These are the mistakes to avoid:

  • Don’t keep worn clothes in the closet, as clothes moths are magically attracted to sweat, hair, and peeling skin.
  • Moths prefer dark, dry places, so you should change your clothes regularly and avoid hanging them too close to each other.
  • Regularly clean carpets and upholstered furniture containing materials of animal origin. Here, too, hair and skin flakes gather.
  • Air your cupboards and shelves where textiles are stored regularly – and wipe them down with lavender or vinegar water.
  • Use linen or cotton bags to store, for example, expensive clothes made of silk or leather. Clothes moths cannot digest this material.
  • If you want to store or keep clothes in boxes, wrap the textiles in newspaper beforehand. For reasons that can not be explained yet, moths avoid printer ink.
  • The longer the clothes are stored, the more undisturbed clothes moths can breed in them. It is very important to check textiles regularly for infestation.

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