Clothes moths were once a common household insect pest prior to the 1950s. The moths lay eggs in or near organic material such as wool, hair, oil or leather so the emerging larvae can feed on the keratin that such materials contain. From the 1950s through the 1970s, manufacturers placed residual insecticides in clothing and upholstery material to combat the moths, but this treatment has been phased out due to dangers the insecticides present, with a consequent resurgence of the pest. Clothes moths are commonly found in closets and bathrooms where clothes pile up. They can also be found in upholstery.
Look closely for moth infestation in bathrooms because they enjoy living in laundry baskets, natural bristle brushes and linen closets. Look for tiny holes in clothes, towels or linens, which can indicate a moth infestation. Shake brushes onto white paper and watch for small moths that are buff coloured to fall from the brush. They are about half an inch in length.
Check the bathroom areas at night by utilising a bright flashlight. Adult moths will fly towards the flashlight, indicating that there is a moth problem. Turn all lights off in the bathroom for a few hours and then shine the flashlight into the areas in question and watch for tiny moths.
Watch for damage to carpets around the toilet, shower or bath because these are a common area for foot oil to build up. The moths lay eggs in the organic oil that is left behind by human feet and bodies. When the larvae hatch they will feed on the organic oils in the carpets, which will result in damage to the inorganic part of the carpet.
Inspect the corners of the bathroom, moulding and crevices. These are favourite locations for moths to lay eggs and for larvae to emerge because hair build-up in a bathroom is common from brushing, trimming and washing hair. Small amounts of hair built up in these locations make them ideal places for moths to flourish.
Purchase pheromone based insect traps at any local home improvement store and place them in the closets of the bathroom closets, the drawers, the clothes hamper, or near the toilets. These will not kill eggs or larvae, and they rarely attract female moths, but male moths will flock to the traps. Check the traps the next morning for any signs of infestation.
- Rid the bathroom of unwanted humidity. Moths adore humid conditions for breeding and organic material for the larvae to eat. Utilise an exhaust fan after all showers in the bathroom. Open the windows if the weather is dry and nice outside to let the humidity escape.
- Moth balls or moth flakes made from paradichlorobenzene or naphthalene can cause a severe respiratory reaction in some people. They should never be used around anyone with a pulmonary condition. Keep them away from children and small pets.