There are two species of moths that are responsible for most of the damage caused by moths in Missouri; the case making clothes moth and the webbing clothes moth. The webbing clothes moth is the more common of the two, and is found throughout the United States. Both moths look very similar. They measure about ½ inch from wing tip to wing tip, and are a buff to golden color. The rears of the wings have a fringe of long hairs, and the case making moth has three dark spots on each wing. The larvae of each moth also look very similar. They are approximately 3/8 to ½ inch long, and are all white except for a brown head. The case making moth obtains its name from the case of silk and material fibers that the larvae spin to protect itself. The webbing clothes moth larvae spin a silk patch, or web, to hide under.
It is actually the larvae of the moths that cause the damage to our clothes. These moths are very fast reproducers. In fact, females are able to begin breeding and laying eggs on the day that they emerge from their cocoons. The female lays an average of about 50 eggs in her life, but can lay as many as 200. The eggs hatch in about a week during the summer months, but may take closer to three weeks in the winter. The larvae then begin feeding. They prefer animal material, especially wool and fur. They will eat synthetic fibers if they are interwoven with animal material, or are soiled. The larval stage lasts and average of 30 to 90 days, depending on temperatures and food availability. The larva then spins its cocoon. Pupation usually lasts about 10 days, at which point an adult moth emerges and the cycle begins anew. The entire process, egg to adult moth, typically takes less than 90 days.
There are some simple precautions you can take to help avoid moth damage to your clothes:
- Clean often – Vacuum your house at least once a week to keep it free of excess lint and hair, especially pet hairs. These are major attractions for clothes moths
- Dry clean – Dry clean wool or fur clothes after every time that you wear them. Moths are much more likely to be attracted to clothes that have spilled food or perspiration on them
- Air tight storage – Store clothes in appropriate, air tight garment bags or air tight plastic tubs
- Cold storage – If it is available, cold storage is an effective deterrent for clothes moths, as they do not grow or reproduce nearly as easily in cold temperatures
Once you have an established infestation, it can be very difficult to eradicate. If you have a clothes moth problem in St. Louis, or elsewhere in Missouri, call Rottler Pest and Lawn Solutions today. We offer effective residential and commercial pest control and extermination in the St. Louis area. Contact us online for your free inspection!