In most cases, a moth infestation in the wardrobe or the linen chest is only discovered when this parasite is flying around the room and thus becomes visible. At this point in time, the damage to the textiles caused by eating has already occurred. Even a few weeks after the larvae hatch, this textile damage caused by clothes moths can continue, the fight against the ultimate extermination of these pests is not easy and must be continued permanently if an infestation has occurred. After detection, moth control must be implemented quickly and comprehensively; this is the only way to avoid escalating into a moth plague. Otherwise, the further loss of clothing and other materials is imminent.

Detect moth infestation at an early stage

The clothes moth is only a few millimeters long and looks very harmless. The nocturnal moths come in different genera, each of which prefers different textiles for their offspring. The spread of the pests in areas inhabited by humans did not gain acceptance until the beginning of the 18th century, when human living conditions had greatly improved. With the installation of heating systems and stoves in the houses and apartments, sufficient warmth was created and the populations of clothes moths could flourish.

  • Clothes-eating moths grow to 6-14 mm long
  • The front wings of the moths are yellow-brown and shiny, the hind wings are even lighter
  • The wingspan is about 14 mm, they glow in flight and have no noticeable markings
  • As a rule, the smaller males are noticed while flying, the females are hindered in flight by the weight of the eggs before being laid and just crawl around
  • The females usually lay 100-200 eggs, one at a time on all kinds of fabrics
  • In addition to the clothes moth, there are also fur and seed moths that also feed on clothing
  • Fur and seed moths prefer fur, animal hides and products including feathers, leather and wool

Causes of clothes moths

The clothes moths themselves do not cause any damage, the culprits are the caterpillars of the moths, which after hatching preferably eat and damage all kinds of household items. Moths fly very badly and usually move from household to household, they prefer well-tempered living and storage rooms. These insects are very light-shy and like to hide in dark and protected places, such as in wardrobes and other furniture. Therefore, houses and apartments inhabited by humans offer ideal living conditions for moths. Guest rooms that are seldom used are also very popular, here the pests can multiply undisturbed and then spread throughout the living area. Clothes moths feed on textile fibers as well as flakes of skin,

  • Storage of unclean and already worn clothing containing human waste
  • Even items of clothing that are only worn briefly attract moths
  • Irregular ventilation of living rooms and wardrobes
  • Messy and forgotten areas in the cloakroom
  • Too infrequent mucking out and cleaning of furniture for clothes and laundry
  • Especially affects textiles that have not been worn for a long time

Targeted prevention against moth infestation

With the right measures, moth infestation can be avoided for a long time, but these must be implemented early and carried out permanently. Many households have forgotten areas that are ideal breeding grounds for clothes moths. They like it dark and warm, factors that are inherent in most furniture. This is why they can spread so well in human dwellings and often become a destructive plague here. You should also pay attention to the carpets, as they are very susceptible to moths. Here the light-shy pests like to nestle on the underside.

  • Before long-term storage, clothing should always be washed or cleaned
  • Store the clothes in newspaper or plastic bags
  • Permanent storage space should be cool, e.g. B. unheated basement or attic
  • Especially valuable clothing, e.g. B. Cashmere sweaters or furs must be packed airtight for protection
  • Regular ventilation of all living areas
  • Periodic mucking out, ventilation and cleaning of all furniture in which textiles are stored
  • Regularly knocking out the carpets also prevents moth infestation

The caterpillars of the clothes moth

After the eggs have been laid, the caterpillars hatch very quickly, and in ideal conditions it can even lead to several generations. The caterpillars develop particularly well at room temperature and can quickly mature into moths, so that they can then continue to reproduce immediately. However, heating air that is too hot is not well tolerated, the caterpillars prefer it to be humid.

  • Caterpillars hatch after about 2 weeks
  • The time it takes to develop into a butterfly varies between 1 and 6 months, depending on the conditions in the environment
  • Caterpillars are a dirty yellow-white color
  • After hatching, the caterpillars feed on the textiles in the area and cause pitting and bald spots in textiles and woolen fabrics, furs, leather, etc.
  • Carpets can also be infected
  • Moist and warm air promotes the growth of the caterpillars, therefore turn the radiator on the highest level for a longer period of time and thereby dry out the air in the room

Biological moth control

If the moth infestation is not yet widespread, it can be combated with natural means and simple tricks. These means and tricks do not pose any health risks to humans and can be carried out or obtained commercially without any problems. The first thing to do after a moth infestation is to carefully clean the clothes, and at the same time to clean the closet thoroughly. The hotter the wash and the rinse water, the better. In the case of very sensitive clothing, such as B. Cashmere wool and silk, which should not be washed too hot, should be shaken out vigorously, dry-cleaned and then stored very cold for some time.

  • After cleaning, put the clothes in the freezer or refrigerator for a week; in the cold season, the cool nights in the fresh air have the same desired effect
  • Cold generally kills the voracious caterpillars of the pests reliably
  • Thoroughly clean the infected wardrobe, chest of drawers or shelf before refilling them with clothes
  • A mixture of vinegar and water is well suited for this; the high acid content drives away the clothes moths

Ichneumon wasps for natural pest control

The parasitic wasps are among the natural enemies of the clothes moth. This insect is microscopic and lays its own eggs in the moth eggs. This prevents larvae from hatching any further. The ichneumon wasps themselves are extremely tiny and barely visible. They do not bother people and do not cause any damage to textiles.

  • Specialized cards with ichneumon wasps are available from specialist retailers, which are in different stages of development
  • The cards are placed in the cupboard or in the appropriate compartment on the shelf
  • The parasitic wasps naturally die as soon as the moth population has been completely destroyed

Odors to keep moths away

Clothes moths are very sensitive to the smells of their surroundings. Many of the commercially available anti-moth agents, e.g. B. Mothballs and moth paper, build on this fact. The unwanted pests are driven away with the help of fragrant chemicals, the specific aroma of which the moths do not like. If you don’t want chemicals in your private living area, you can also use small fragrance bags with natural fragrance dispensers.

  • Use of moth balls and moth paper with a special scent aroma that the moths do not like
  • Hang up scented sachets with lavender flowers, clove stalks, dried orange peel or pieces of cedar wood in the cupboards
  • The clothes moths and their caterpillars also keep strong smells of natural origin away
  • Strongly scented impregnation of leather and fur to drive away the moths

Use heat and cold to fight moths

If there is already an infestation, the moths can be fought with extreme heat and cold. However, the infected closet should first be thoroughly mucked out and cleaned. In the cold season, the affected cabinet can also be placed in the fresh air and cool down for a while and ventilate it.

  • After cleaning, blow-dry all edges, corners and cracks with a hairdryer at the highest level
  • The hot air kills both the larvae and the eggs that may have been laid in joints and hidden corners
  • Wash infected clothing and clothing that has yet to be rescued as hot as possible in order to kill the moth larvae lastingly
  • Wrap delicate textiles in plastic bags and put them in the freezer for a few days
  • Freezing temperatures destroy moths and their larvae, as does heat
  • Alternatively, non-washable textiles, such as furs and small carpets, can be heated in the oven to around 60-70 ° C for about an hour
  • The heating in the oven should be done under observation, as burns can occur here


A pheromone trap is appropriate for clothes moths fluttering around cheerfully. This bio-technical trap is used to remove and monitor harmful butterflies and butterflies. The trapping principle of this trap is based on the natural reproductive behavior of the moth. To attract the males, the pheromones of the females ready to mate are used, which they send out as fragrances as attractants. For use in the household, this trap is available in stores made of cardboard, the inside of which has been glued with the attractant.

  • The cardboard trap is folded and placed in the room with the moth emergence
  • The pheromone trap attracts the males of the moths, which stick to it and perish
  • Without males, the females cannot reproduce any further
  • If many moths are caught in the trap for days, there is a high probability that the infestation is more severe
  • A pheromone trap can also be set up as a precaution, especially if there has already been a moth infestation in the household

Clothes moths should not be taken lightly, as the larvae of these moths can cause major damage to textiles of all kinds. At the first suspicion, action must therefore be taken immediately to prevent the moth from spreading into a plague. A pheromone trap is very useful for the first check, as the moths are mainly active at night and are therefore often not noticed. Depending on the degree of spread, there are biological and chemical means to control the clothes moths. The most important thing, however, is prevention so that a moth infestation cannot occur in the first place. Regular ventilation, cleaning and mucking out of the cupboards takes away the moths’ livelihood and prevents a moth plague.

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