Knitting Tips: Clothes Moths – Arrrgggh

Every fiber arts forum I read has questions, at least once a week, about clothes moths. We all get them every once in a while, so I thought I’d gather some info on the little buggers all together in one place.

There are two varieties, the case clothes moth, and the webbing clothes moth.

It is not the larger moths that fly around light that you have to worry about. Clothes moths look like this, but are smaller and slimmer than the enlargement shown here, usually less than 1/2 inch long. Otherwise, they look just like this one. When they are able to fly around, they pose no danger to your woolens YET. But don’t ignore them. It’s their eggs, larvae, and larva cases that you have to beware of.

This is the case moth’s larval case. If you find even one of these, you can figure that there will very soon be more. Believe it or not, these cases are made of silk! The larva carries it around as it moves. Its head emerges to eat, but retracts when finished or if it feels threatened.

These are the eggs and larvae of the webbing moth. Yuk.

How to get rid of them? There are many products on the internet that are safe and environmentally friendly, and they are easy to find. It takes work, though, to eliminate moths, as well as persistence. Some people say that placing infested material in a freezer for a few days kills them, but I’m not sure if that would take care of eggs or larvae.

How to prevent them?

Both adults and larva prefer low light conditions, so try to store your fiber items in a bright place. Keep them in tightly closed containers; I know from experience that zip lock plastic bags will not keep moths out; they simply chew right through. Moth traps are available and are recommended by some sources. Herbal sachets smell good and may work at first, but as the herbs dry out, its effectiveness quickly wanes. I’ve had good luck placing an unwrapped bar of Irish Spring soap in each container. Keeping the floors clean, preferably with a vacuum, also helps. Check often for adult moths and larva cases, and take action at the first sign that they’ve returned.