While most moths are essentially harmless in nature, they can become frustrating pests when they infest your home. The comfortable atmosphere of your closets, bathrooms and cabinets makes a pleasant home for these pesky creatures, and it can be hard to know how to get rid of moths once they’ve settled in.
Moths and their larvae will eat holes in your clothes and cause damage to your houseplants. Moths will also make a home in your pantry, eating their way into your food containers, leaving your food with a strange smell and unpleasant sticky clumps. The good news is it’s not too hard to get your moth problem under control.
1. Identify the Culprits
Before jumping into pest control mode, make a thorough inspection of your house to make sure you’re targeting the right insect and the right places. Adult moths often have different behavioral and feeding habits than their larvae, so it’s important to find all sources of the infestation.
Look for eggs or larvae in all your closets and cabinets. Look under furniture. Look in areas where lint tends to accumulate, like vents and along the edges of your carpeting. In addition, pay attention to neglected areas such as old furniture, rugs or old luggage stored away. Moths like secluded areas, so be thorough.
2. Do a Thorough Spring Cleaning
If you want to be truly rid of moths, the next step is a thorough cleaning of all infested areas. Remove clothes from your closets, pull out storage bins, and empty your pantry. Move furniture and rugs and empty your drawers. Throw out any foods that may be infested and get rid of old fabric, pillows, dried flowers or anywhere the moths could hide and breed.
Vacuum your carpets well, paying special attention to baseboards, door casings and edging. It’s a good idea to use a vacuum cleaner with extra strong suction if possible. Vacuum inside air vents and under heat radiators.
Vigorously scrub all hard surfaces with detergent and hot water. The scrubbing will help to remove any larvae from the walls and surfaces. After scrubbing, spray and wipe all clean surfaces with vinegar or a bleach solution.
3. Eliminate Moths, Larvae and Eggs
Kill any moths you happen to see flying about. Keep a flyswatter handy – even one in each room, if possible – and make sure your family knows to kill all moths on sight.
Install a moth pheromone trap to attract and kill moths. The simple glue trap uses a female moth pheromone to attract male moths. The male moths die on the trap and this helps to break the reproduction cycle, preventing further infestation.
Wash and dry (or dry clean) all of your clothes. Even if every item doesn’t appear to be affected, you don’t want to miss even one egg or larva and risk re-infestation. After washing, put clean clothes in the freezer for two to three days. This will kill any remaining larvae and eggs. When you remove your clothes from the freezer, you can simply shake them out to remove dead eggs and larvae.
Fumigate your house, when all else fails. A good cleaning will often get rid of moths; however, if you don’t have the time or the problem is just too widespread, an insect fogger will effectively kill off any remaining pests. Insect foggers are poisonous, however, and they will leave a strong odor. You and your family and pets will also need to stay out of the house while it is fumigated.
Remember, while fumigating is immediately effective, you risk re-infestation if you don’t focus on the source of the problem. If you truly want to be rid of moths, thorough cleaning is key.
4. Prevent Re-Infestation
Mothproofing your home is an important step if you want to prevent re-infestation.
You can use a preventative chemical like Insect Guard to repel moths and protect your clothing. Stored clothes can be packed with moth repellants interspersed. The continuous fumigation will prevent further moth damage.
Alternatively, there is quite a variety of natural scents that act as a repellent for moths. Both lavender and mint are effective for keeping moths away. You can use them dried in a sachet or scattered loose in drawers or closets. Cedar has also been long-recognized as a good moth repellent. Even if you don’t have cedar wood furniture, you can install some cedar blocks in closets and cabinets. Just make sure to lightly sand them from time to keep the scent fresh.
Finally, keep food and clothing in a clean, dry environment. Store food and clothes in airtight containers where moths can’t get at them. In addition, make sure clothing is clean and moth-free before packing it away.