Industry News

Keep clothes moths out in the cold

By Dr. Austin Frishman, Ph.D. 

Clothes moths, as the name implies, can wreak havoc on all types of fabric, especially wool. Moth larvae, however, do the feeding -- and identifying the sources of these pest culprits can be tricky. Sometimes it is necessary to think outside the box. 

Where to look for clothes moths 

First, make sure you identify the correct moth species. Clothes moths are weak flyers and avoid bright lights. Pantry moths are more common than clothes moths, so make sure you are not dealing with a food product in the breeding area before identifying the pests as clothes moths. 

The obvious locations to inspect for clothes moths are wool items (such as sweaters and blankets) and carpeting. The older the item and the longer it is stored unused or sits uncleaned, the greater the chance it is a breeding area. 

If you still don’t find the breeding ground, figure out where the moths may be getting their food source from:

  • Beef meal, fish meal, casein or milk products

  • Hair from rodents or tenants’ pets

  • Feathers from a hat, fly fishing bait or quill pens

  • A squirrel or bird nest in the chimney

  • An old lucky rabbit’s foot or a mounted deer head

Great inspectors don’t always find what they’re looking for right away, but they keep on looking. When you make your first find, the thrill of success keeps you going. 

How to treat for clothes moths

  • Throwing out heavily infested items is a start, but they can be expensive or mean a lot to the customer. Such items need to be preserved by shipping to experts who specialize in doing this type of work.

  • Vacuuming the floor area under heavy furniture is necessary. Dispose of the contents in the vacuum cleaner bag.

  • Dry cleaning or washing affected material in hot, soapy water kills larvae at all stages and should be followed by drying on a hot setting.

  • Using cedar flakes or balls tucked into sealed bags of clothes will protect them from moth larvae.

  • Some pheromone traps can help pinpoint breeding areas, ensure your treatment programs work and provide early detection for future infestations.

  • The use of a residual insecticide targeted in proper areas can be helpful to control clothes moths at all life stages. Archer® insect growth regulator from Syngenta is labeled for flying insects and can be used in cracks and crevices. Check with your Syngenta territory manager for more information. The fabrics themselves, however, should not be treated with an insecticide.

Finally, pricing control jobs for clothes moths over the telephone can be risky. You may be dealing with someone’s million dollar doll collection, or just an old worthless rug. Go inspect before determining what you need to do and how to price it. 

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©2017 Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties and/or may have state-specific use requirements. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration and proper use. Archer®, For Life Uninterrupted™ and the Syngenta logo are trademarks of a Syngenta Group Company. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).


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© Syngenta. Important: Always read and follow label instructions. Some products may not be registered for sale or use in all states or counties and/or may have state-specific use requirements. Please check with your local extension service to ensure registration and proper use. The trademarks displayed or otherwise used herein are trademarks or service marks of a Syngenta Group Company or third parties. Syngenta Customer Center: 1-866-SYNGENT(A) (796-4368).