Moths have stages when they look like a small caterpillar. These are called there larva stage, and it is also when they damage items of animal origin such as: wool, fur, silk and feathers. Moth larva also like dirty or older sometimes damaged clothing.
As an adult, these moths do not feed. They are rarely seen because like many other pests they tend to hide in the dark during daylight. The Indian meal moth, a common “pantry or stored product pest,” flies about during daylight, is often mistaken for one of these moths and should not be confused.
Casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella)
These common clothing Moths are a buff gray color, 1/4 inch long, wings fold over body, and each front wing has three indistinct darker spots of scales. The larva is creamy white with a brown head. It produces a silken tube-like case in which it lives and carries around for protection. The head and legs are exposed only during feeding and movement. This case is camouflaged with bits of the material on which the larva has been feeding. Larva is approximately 1/2-inch long at maturity.
*Casemaking Clothing Moth Larva Picture
Webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella)
These also common clothing moths are a uniform Buff Color, 1/4 inch long, mall tuft or red hair on top of head. The larva is whitish colored with a brown head. It produces a silk-lined “tunnel” as it eats through or on the surface of a fabric. The moth is approximately 1/2-inch long at maturity.
*Webbing Clothing Moth Larva Picture
Control measures & Prevention
I. Conduct a regular inspection program of all susceptible items at least once a year. Take all items out of closets and drawers, and vacuum closets and drawers thoroughly to remove lint on which larvae may feed.
II. When making purchases, look for woolens and wool synthetic blends that have been treated by the manufacturer with a moth-resistant compound.
III. Good housekeeping helps keep these pests out. In the home, clean often to prevent lint, dust or hair from accumulating. Regular vacuum cleaning of rugs, carpets, drapes, upholstered furniture, pet bedding, closets, cracks and crevices in floors, and areas inside and behind heaters, furnace air ducts and vents is important. Particularly susceptible are areas that are under furniture that is seldom moved and along baseboards where wool lint may accumulate. After using the vacuum, empty the bag because it may contain eggs or larvae.
IV. Clean garments regularly. Thoroughly clean garments before storage. Clothes moths are attracted to articles soiled by food, beverages, perspiration and urine, rather than the clean wool itself. For furs, professional cleaning and cold storage is recommended.
V. Store articles properly. Place clean articles in tight storage containers. Good plastic bags sealed after the clean item is placed inside should prevent clothes moth infestation as long as the bag remains without punctures or tears. Also using a storage containers with tight fitting lids and seal storage containers or cartons with a good quality tape. All seams and joints should be taped over. If garments are completely clean when placed in sealed containers, they should be safe from clothes moths.
VI. Place garments in cold storage where temperatures remain below 30°F. Larvae are inactive at temperatures below 30°F. Many people assume that freezing temperatures will control these insects-not always so. Clothes moths have survived for long periods in unheated attics and barns in old furniture, clothing and blankets exposed to below-freezing temperatures. Although lower temperatures slow down or put a temporary halt to their activities, the clothes moths are usually not directly killed by them.
VII. If you have infested articles, you can often rid them of larvae and eggs by brushing and sunning them, or by having them dry cleaned. Vigorous brushing outdoors in bright sunshine, particularly of areas around cuffs, collars and other hidden places, if done periodically, can be effective in destroying clothes moths. If pillows, mattresses, or upholstered furnishings are infested, you may want to have them treated by a professional pest control firm, or dispose of the infested articles.
VIII. Moth proofing after cleaning or sunning can help prevent future infestations. Infested cabinets or closets should be vacuumed thoroughly to remove any wool lint from between boards or in corners.
IX. Cedar Blocks bought from a quality clothing store or made from a fresh higher quality cedar deter moths. By placing in your drawers and cabinets these cedar blocks will deter moths. If lower quality Cedar, every few months or so the blocks should be recut or replaced. Cedar oils are also available.
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