Like butterflies, moths are mostly harmless unless they get inside your home. Pantry moths and clothing moths can damage your home, and a large infestation of any moth is a nuisance. Our professional grade moth control products will target moths and their larvae, allowing you to do it yourself and leaving your home and property moth free.
Moth Control Basics
Moths aren’t difficult to control, but it is important to understand what you’re dealing with when it comes to moths. There are only a handful of moths that homeowners have problems with. Clothes moths, which are destructive to stored wool and fur products, pantry moths (or Indian meal moths) that are destructive to stored grain products, and gypsy moths, which are heavy defoliators. Below are steps to take when dealing with a moth infestation based on the three moths mentioned above. While other moths may become nuisances, the basic control principles remain the same for all types of moths.
Damage: The three moths discussed in this article can cause significant damage. All moth larvae, or caterpillars, can cause damage to plants, but the moths discussed here cause specific damage to specific items, or are especially damaging.
- Clothes moths: The larvae of these moths will eat through stored woolen clothing, damage furs, eat through felt pads in pianos, and cause general damage to any animal-based clothing, and may congregate where hair collects (baseboards, etc).
- Pantry moths: This species of moth feed on stored grain products and other foods and can chew through cardboard and plastic packaging. They infest products and render them unusable, and these food products include: dried fruit, cornmeal, cereals, chocolate, crackers, dry pet food, etc. They can spin a silken web-like material as they feed and cause unpleasant odors.
- Gypsy moths: Gypsy moth caterpillars cause serious economic damage by heavy defoliation of many types of trees.
- General moth damage: Adult moths are rarely the cause of the damage. Caterpillars, or moth larvae, are voracious eaters and can cause significant damage to their preferred food source, be it
Monitoring: This is a key step in moth control because it will help you determine whether you have an infestation, the scope of the infestation, and lets you take inventory of the damage. First, you’ll want to check for any visible damage.
- Clothes moths: Larvae feed on wool clothing, carpets, rugs, stored wool items, furs, fish food, felt pads in pianos, and any other stored organic materials. You will need to inspect all of these products, including beneath clothing cuffs and collars, cracks and crevices of furniture, and underneath furniture especially where carpet is present. Some species create silken webbing, so keep an eye out for that as well. Inspect all stored susceptible clothing, as well as where hair collects. Look for live moths and larvae, eggs, etc.
- Pantry moths: These moths are found anywhere that grain-based food products are stored. Indian meal moth larvae, the most common type of pantry moths, will feed on any product they can find, even traces of flour. Look for larvae, eggs, and the small adult moths in areas where grain-based food is stored. When the larvae feed on the material, there will be feces present and the food can take on an unpleasant odor that you may notice.
- Gypsy moths: Gypsy moths use a wide variety of trees as hosts. Egg masses, which look like tan or gold colored patches on tree bark, are an early indicator of an imminent gypsy moth problem. Seeing adult moths in your area previous to the egg masses, and having experienced the defoliating larvae in the past are good predictors of an infestation. Keep an eye on trees in your area.
Prevention: Prevention techniques for almost any indoor pest are very similar. Simply put, you need to ensure that the susceptible area or item does not offer food, water, or shelter to discourage inhabitation. If you don’t currently have an infestation, or are trying to get rid of one now, these steps are important to follow when avoiding or getting rid of moths.
- Clothes moths: To prevent a clothes moth infestation, it all comes down to proper storage. Susceptible clothing must be kept in mothproof containers, such as wood or hard plastic, that can’t be chewed through. The containers should be properly sealed. All clothes must be washed or dry-cleaned before storage, as soiled clothing or fabrics are more susceptible to damage. Keep storage area clean, free of cobwebs, etc.
- Pantry moths: Pantry moth prevention starts at the grocery store, checking vulnerable food for any signs of insects. Look for eggs, larvae, and adult moths. Make sure you keep your pantry or food storage area clean and free of spills, and that all food is in tightly sealed containers, preferably glass or hard plastic. Keep your food in a rotation: older food to the front, newer food to the back, and try to only buy what you will use in a few months.
- Gypsy moths: A big part of prevention efforts for gypsy moths begins with the eggs. Egg masses on trees should be removed and placed in a bucket of soapy water. Very cold temperatures can kill the eggs. Keeping trees healthy can help trees bounce back from any insect damage, including gypsy moths.
- General moth prevention: Make sure your home is well sealed against insect intruders. Moths are often attracted to lights, so keeping shades shut can decrease moths gathering near your windows. Keep any possible food sources out of reach of moths, and reduce any possible shelter for the moths and other insects, indoors and out.
Trapping: Moth traps can be used for reduction of populations (if populations aren’t too large) and to help monitor your current situation. Placing traps in susceptible areas before an infestation will help you detect the first signs of any moths in your area. All moth traps use pheromones, or sex hormones, to trap one half of a moth population. They help you to pinpoint the “hot spots” of an infestation. Always read instructions carefully and thoroughly before use.
Insecticides: For indoor moths, aerosol insecticides formulated for moths will work great, but you will want to look for long lasting products that continue to work after you spray. This helps to continue control for weeks or months between applications. Outdoors, look for residual products to spray on susceptible or moth-heavy areas. Gypsy moths are susceptible to insecticides and natural predators, like birds and bats, that can help to keep populations at a minimum. We carry kits for clothes moths and pantry moths, and many products formulated to work on gypsy moth caterpillars and a wide range of other nuisance moths.