Have you ever taken a sweater out of the closet to discover it was ripped and torn? After that, a moth infestation was dealt with. Naturally, you’ll want to handle the situation as soon as possible to prevent it from getting out of hand.
However, it’s crucial to first comprehend the source of the issue in order to effectively manage or avoid a moth infestation. And the clothes moths—tiny insects—are the root of the entire problem.
In this article, we present an answer to “why do moths eat clothes?”, including all relevant information to help you become better informed.
Which Type of Moths Eat Clothes?
Although it may seem obvious, it is crucial to understand that there are many different types of moths, and that only certain of them are harmful.
The two main subgroups of these moths—commonly referred to as pantry moths and clothes moths—are those that attack dry goods and cause damage to clothing, household textiles, carpets, and rugs respectively. Visit our House Moth Identification guide for more information!
These two primary groupings are different from the majority of moth species in that they both seek out dark, quiet areas of your home and detest light. Please keep in mind that the actual harm to clothing or food is caused by the moth larvae and not the moths themselves.
Clothes Moths / Carpet Moths
There is no distinction between the moth species that could attack your garments or carpets; depending on where the damage in your home has been discovered, all these names are frequently used.
The adult webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the casemaking clothes moth are the two primary species that are most frequently observed indoors (Tinea pellionella).
The white-shouldered house moth and the brown house moth are two other species that are commonly seen to attack clothing and household textiles.
Clothes Moth Lifecycle Stages
The only reason adult clothing moths exist is to reproduce and allow the female to deposit eggs. They only have a month of life. They don’t consume any food during their brief adult lives.
The larvae that develop from the eggs are the ones that consume clothing. The lifecycle of the clothing moth is completed by the clothes moth larvae pupating and developing into adult moths. It may only take 4 to 6 weeks from the time adult clothes moths are present before harm to your priceless possessions begins.
Why Do Moths Eat Clothes?
Or, more specifically, why do moth larvae eat clothes? To grow and pupate into adult clothing moths, the larvae must have food. As a result of evolution, clothing moths have adapted to rely on the protein keratin found in garments made from animals (cashmere, wool, silk, feathers, and fur, mainly).
This is why the existence of clothes moths poses a threat to your investment wardrobe pieces, priceless home textiles, and priceless rugs and carpets. Human hair and dead skin cells include keratin as well. Pet and human hair and skin cells are among the household dust, therefore, cleaning is crucial.
Combining all of this and taking into account our hectic lifestyles, the following typical locations demonstrate how easily our houses can turn into the ideal breeding ground for a clothes moth:
- Under the sofa
- In the wardrobe
- In the attic
Under the Sofa
Because it’s challenging to move heavy furniture, vacuuming is frequently a quick task, and moths prefer darker, less-visited spots to lay their eggs (furniture frequently rests on natural wool carpets or rugs), under the sofa is a popular location for clothes moth larvae.
In the Wardrobe
Heavy winter gear, especially jackets and sweaters, is frequently kept folded in dresser drawers or hung in wardrobes during the summer. It is an ideal location for clothes moth larvae because they are frequently left undisturbed for months on end and are not always stored in breathable, moth-proof garment storage bags.
In the Attic
Many clothing items frequently sit in the dark motionless attic for years, which creates the ideal conditions for a significant clothing moth infestation. It might only be a matter of time before moths move into your wardrobe in pursuit of the delicious, silky cashmere!
Do Moths Eat Other Fabrics?
Occasionally, people will report that plant-based fabrics—of which cotton clothing is the most prevalent—have been harmed by moth larvae. How is that even possible? This only occurs when cotton clothing is severely dirty due to food stains or human perspiration.
When a consumer inquires about the holes in their cotton t-shirts, it is usually due to wear and tear or damage from the washing machine (fabric catching on buttons, clips, fasteners, etc.).
How to Catch Potential Moth Infestations Early
Because moth eggs are so tiny and frequently tuck deep into the fabric’s weave, they can be challenging to find. Therefore, there are visual indicators that can inform you if moths are destroying your clothing and other household textiles.
- Do you notice any thin, transparent webbing that resembles spun silk or moth cases?
- Are the larvae visible? Usually between a quarter and a half an inch long, with a brownish head that resembles tiny maggots.
- Do any clothing items have holes or what appear to be minor tears that shouldn’t be there?
- Can you also find rug or carpet piles that have been severely damaged, possibly with parts that are threadbare?
- Have you observed adult clothes moths flying, or perhaps more likely just resting in shadowy areas?
How to Protect Your Clothing From Moths
You definitely want to find out how to avoid a moth infestation now that you are aware of what moth larvae consume and how they harm your clothing. Here are a few techniques you can employ:
- Call an expert
The moths are repelled to some extent by cedar blocks, but the larvae are unaffected. You must sand the wood’s surface every two to three months to renew the potent scent if you use cedar as a repellent to try to lower your chances of a moth infestation.
Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations to try to kill any eggs or larvae before putting winter clothing in storage containers. Clothes with food spills or stains on them are highly attractive to moths and their larvae.
To kill eggs and larvae, you can also try putting goods in large plastic bags and freezing them. For seven to ten days, you must store them in your own freezer.
Additionally, routine vacuuming might lessen your risk of developing a moth infestation. You also might want to think about using an attachment to vacuum your closet’s walls and any hanging clothes that won’t be put in storage.
Your storage must be airtight to prevent clothing that is contaminated with larvae. However, you should also make sure that your clothing is kept in a way that prevents condensation from penetrating and leading to mold or mildew.
For short-term and seasonal storage, cotton-lined airtight storage containers or vacuum-sealed bags work well.
Call an Expert
You need to take action if moth larvae are seriously compromising your wardrobe options. By collaborating with you to develop a moth control plan that meets your requirements, a qualified professional can assist you in doing just that.
How to Deal with Moth Larvae?
First, keep your clothing moth traps operational so you can keep an eye out for adult moth activities and lower the population. It’s easy to see how things might spiral out of control when you consider that one married female clothes moth can produce 200 eggs in the relatively short time that she lives.
For more moth facts and figures, check this guide on all facts about clothes moths
Second, if you have carpet or clothing damage, it is strongly advised to use a clothes moth killer kit in conjunction with a thorough cleaning of the affected areas. This will guarantee that the larvae are dealt with and that residual protection is provided.
Last but not least, try to identify where the infestation first started. Check any unoccupied attics or basements, in particular.
Visit our Using Moth Fogger & Moth Bomb Treatments At Home guide for tips on dealing with moths!
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I keep moths from eating my clothes?
Wool, fur, and feather-filled clothing should be stored in compression storage bags or containers with tight lids. Put dresses, suits, and other hanging garments in garment bags that are sealed and free of holes (tape over any seams or joints). Avoid using fabric containers because moths can consume them.
What causes moths to eat clothes?
In order for larvae to grow and pupate into adult clothing moths they must have food. Clothing moths have evolved to rely on the protein keratin contained in the clothing created from animals as a result of evolution (cashmere, wool, silk, feathers, and fur, mainly).
Do moths really eat clothes?
Moths no, larvae yes. Clothing is not eaten by adult moths. However, an adult moth deposits eggs, which later develop into larval moths. Natural fibers and animal products like fur, silk, wool, and feathers are consumed by moth larvae. Since moth larvae obtain essential nutrition from these animal fibers, they can and will eat holes in your clothing.
What season do moths eat clothes?
Moth season is typically at the beginning of spring. The clothing moth eggs will hatch, consume fabric, make a cocoon, and then break their cocoon when the following season begins, which might be in two months or a year. Everything will depend on how hot or cold it is outside. Another factor is indoor warmth, which means that moth life cycles might continue indefinitely within a house.