Seasonal clothing sometimes falls victim to hasty and improper storing. If you are pulling out winter clothes, or digging in the attic for your prized ugly sweater party attire, look out for holes, silky webbing, or leftover cocoons – all of which are signs of clothes moths.
Because adult clothes moths hide from light sources and do not feed, you probably will not see them flying around your home. The adult moths are a quarter-inch wide and vary between dark beige and light brown in color, which can also make them hard to see or identify.
Finding holes in clothes hung in closets, or stored away in the attic or basement, is the first sign you may have a problem. Clothes moths are most commonly found on wool clothes and hats, or items containing down or fur. They tend to feed in the dark, hidden areas of clothes such as under collars and cuffs. Examine your clothes, focusing on these areas, and any places stained by food spills, perspiration or sweat. Moth problems usually start when an item of clothing is put away before it is cleaned. If clothes moths hitch a ride on one of these items, it is usually not long until the moths and larvae infect an entire closet of garments. If the infestation is severe, you may even find traces of silky webbing or discarded cocoons from larvae.
It is the moth’s larvae stage that causes the most damage to garments. Once the adults lay their eggs, it is only a couple weeks until the larvae emerge and start munching. Moth larvae are stationary and create holes in fabric by biting off fibers, chewing them into stumps then moving on to the next closest fiber. They remain in this damage-causing stage for a couple months.
When clothes moths infest, it is very important not to disturb live moths and spread the infestation.
If your closet has fallen victim to clothes moths, the damage is repairable if caught in time. Avoid the hassle clothes moths cause in the future by properly cleaning and storing seasonal clothing before packing it away and learning how to spot damage early.