Moths aren’t as prevalent in Colorado as some places, but I have had beautiful wool coats ruined by moths. I checked with the experts and here is what they advise:
Clothes moths don’t like light and are so secretive that you’ll probably never see them. What’s more, the adult moths won’t do any harm. Damage to woolens is actually done by the larvae of two types of insects: clothes moths and carpet beetles (the latter being more prevalent than moths in most areas of the country). Both insects lay eggs in secluded spots with plenty of food — wool, fur, down, shed pet dander, and other animal-based materials. Larvae emerge within a few weeks; beetle larvae can feed on fabric for a year or more and moth larvae may cause damage for a couple months.
The best strategy? Keep things clean.
Vacuum your closet weekly.
Brush your coats with a clothes brush.
Before you pack up winter clothing for storage, wash or dry-clean garments that have been worn. This rids them of moth and beetle eggs and also eliminates perspiration remnants and food spills, which attract and nourish pests. Moths and beetles don’t eat items made of synthetic or cotton fabrics, but you should clean those, too, if you store them with woolens.
Moths and beetles can get through extremely tight spaces. When storing woolens, reclosable plastic bags or plastic boxes are best for keeping pests out.
Lavender, cedar and moth balls/crystals all work to repel moths. Lavender and cedar need to be replaced frequently. Moth balls are toxic, so use with caution
What if you already have clothes or carpet pests? Here are some tips for identifying the bugs you are dealing with, getting rid of them, and then salvaging your woolen items.
- You won’t likely see clothes moths, but if you find holes, you know you have a problem. With moth larvae, you may find silky webbing or cigarlike cocoons. Beetle larvae leave dried skins — like tiny rice grains.
- Remove and treat all infested material. You might throw away the most damaged clothing. Dry-clean or launder items you keep; freezing also eradicates pests: Put items in sealed plastic bags, squeeze out air, and freeze for a few days. Take the bags out, let them return to room temperature, and then repeat. In case of condensation, let clothes air out before storing again.
- Clean your house thoroughly before replacing treated items. Use a vinegar solution to clean your closets.
- Use flypaper and fish oil to make a homemade moth trap or find a pheromone-laced cardboard traps to trap the remaining moths.
- Use a vinegar solution to clean your closets.