If carpet moths have never invaded your house, consider yourself lucky, because carpet moth infestation can be a costly problem as it can cause serious and often irreparable damage to your carpets. In order to understand where they come from and avoid an infestation, I did some research about these destructive species.
So, where do carpet moths come from? They usually live outdoors, where they live in nests, animal skin or fur. Since they are small, we do not recognize carpet moths outside our houses. They become a matter of attention after coming into our houses to live with us. Although they can fly into homes through doors or windows, moths usually get indoors with infested food products or fabrics. Carpet moth larvae eat keratin found in natural fibers like wool, which is why wool carpets are great places for them to live on.
The life cycle of carpet moths changes depending on their living space. Instead of one or two life cycles a year, while living outdoors, they can manage to live six or seven indoors.
How can I identify a carpet moth? How long do they live? Are they dangerous? How can I get rid of them? I am going to answer all these questions and some more, in the following paragraphs in detail.
First, I will begin by giving some information about carpet moths; how to identify them and their life cycle. Then, you can find detailed information about controlling your house for carpet moths and different treatment procedures for the case of a moth infestation. Let’s begin by identifying these little creatures.
Identifying a Carpet Moth
The Tapestry Moth or Carpet Moth (Trichophaga tapetzella) can be found worldwide. Carpet moths are different from a common house moth. Here are some characteristics of carpet moths which can be helpful for you to find out if you are sharing your house with these insects:
The carpet moth is relatively small in size than a common house moth. They have a body about 5mm long and a wingspan of about 14-18mm.
Carpet moths are buff colored. Usually, they have forewings that with three distinct dots. Their hind wings are lighter in color and smaller in size. Also, it is common to find a larvae of the carpet moth the same color as your carpet fibers since they have eaten the dyes in the carpet pile.
The carpet moths do not fly that often and you can see them hopping on the floor instead of flying.
Local temperature, food supplies, and even humidity are crucial determinants for their speed of development and life cycle. It can take as fast as 8 weeks for them to become adult, resulting in several generations during the summer. But in winter, the last generation of larvae will stay at the larvae stage and wait for the warmer spring days to pupate and restart this cycle.
They will look for hidden, dark areas to lay their eggs. So if you are looking for carpet moth eggs, look under pieces of furniture and curtains.
The Life Cycle of a Carpet Moth
The common house moth and carpet moth have very similar life cycles. The adult moths do not live much long but still, female ones can lay hundreds of eggs in their brief lifetime.
They lay their eggs in dark, hidden, quiet parts of carpets and rugs in the house and it takes around 4 to 10 days for hatching. The life of their larvae depend upon the temperature and they can live for up to 2 years which means continued damage to your carpets since they eat through the winter times. But in summer days, they pupate in 2 months, which means a number of cycles through Spring to Autumn months. The pupation stage of their life lasts up to 2 weeks before they become adults. The adults are harmless to your carpets and live only 2-3 months. But the risk at this point is further egg laying inside your house and infestation getting out of hand. Therefore treatment procedures should deal with both adult and larvae stages of carpet moths.
How to Control Your House for Carpet Moths?
The main indicator of an infestation of carpet moths is small balding patches at the edges and in the corners of your carpets. This problem will not be solved without immediate attention, on the contrary, it will get even worse. An infestation of carpet moths can get out of hand really fast since in their short adult life, mated female carpet moths can lay around 200 eggs and they are really stubborn when it comes to leaving your house.
How to Get Rid of Carpet Moths?
The treatment routines are the same irrespective of the moth type that invades your home. If you have experienced moths in your home and you are expecting them to reach other rooms in your house, you may want to consider putting your clothes in wardrobes, closets, and drawers which are more sheltered.
There are many ways to attack this unwanted visitor. The best preventive treatment is vacuuming regularly, but it is usually not sufficient.
They prefer dark, hidden corners to live so you need to hunt them down. There are some natural ways to trap the adult carpet moths such as moth papers. You may also use insecticide sprays for the furniture cracks, loose rugs and skirting boards. Even though all these sprays are supposed to work, they are really stubborn and it may take a number of repeated treatments to get rid of them.
5 Steps to Carpet Moth Control
1 – Clean Thoroughly
For a moth-free house, the key thing is keeping a tidy and clean house and clothing.
All kinds of moths are feed with moisture and food traces together with natural fibers of your carpets and clothing. They are attracted to food stains, spills and smells so it is crucial for a moth-free life keeping all your textiles clean and tidy. You should vacuum your carpets on a regular base and wash your items of clothing.
It is additionally essential to use your clothing – the more you wear, fold and launder items, the less they sit around on a dark shelf getting dust, waiting for unwanted guests! For your unused clothes like winter clothes in summer days, you may expose them to the sun and check them for the moths regularly.
For carpets, while vacuuming regularly, do not miss the spots under sofas and edges of the skirting boards since moths prefer darker hidden areas for living undisturbed.
For moth control in the kitchen, keep all your drawers and cupboards clean and packages sealed. You may use airtight containers for not leaving anything out in open.
2 – Prevention Is Better Than Cure
You may think using moth deterrents if you have natural wool carpets or clothing with wool or cashmere that you are worried about being ruined by moths.
For deterring moths, you can put scented products around your house, inside wardrobes, cupboards, and drawers. Sprays, drawer liners, scented sachets, and hanging units will do the job.
While packing your winter clothing, keep in mind to put scented products with them and if possible, using secure bags to deter moths. But do not pick plastic bags which will cause extra humidity and attract moths, also damage your knitwear. If you are using suit carriers, make sure to seal them to avoid moths getting inside them.
Using natural moth sprays which can be sprayed onto clothes is also a good idea for protecting your clothes from moths.
In order to protect your carpets in bedrooms and living rooms, I strongly recommend installing moth traps to reduce the impact of the infestation by breaking the breeding cycle of carpet moths.
3 – Monitor
Keep an eye on your house, especially carpets and clothing, looking for signs of possible moth damage.
Pheromone traps which contain female pheromones are great for monitoring moths. Male moths are attracted to them and thus visit the traps and get stuck onto the sticky parts of these traps. It is the best way of knowing the presence of moths in your house and also helps to break the breeding cycle by preventing female adult moths laying eggs. The male moths only fly at night in search of female moths. By using these traps, you can see the extent of the problem. In the case of finding moths in the trap, you can require further action for eliminating eggs or larvae which may be present in your house.
4 – Fast Action
On the off chance that you see indications of moth harm or discover moths in a moth box or trap, there are various quick acting moth killing items accessible that will produce results on eggs, larvae, and adult moths, to stop your problem promptly. Watching out for the moths is vital to prevent any harm to materials before it occurs, as the moth larvae are the guilty parties for eating carpets and clothes you should eliminate any moths previously they breed and lay eggs.
5 – Maintain
In the event that you have had moth issues previously, or in the event that you are keen to prevent any incident, later on, it is best to take keep moth deterrent items to secure your clothes, carpets, and food from moth harm.
Keep in mind that open windows can welcome new moths into your home at any time!
All year it is best to keep a scented supply of cedar wood items and scented sachets with your wool textiles and food moth trap in the kitchen or larder. After some time the viability of cedar wood items for moth control may reduce yet they are effectively revived by sanding them lightly and including a couple of drops of fundamental cedar oil.
If you can follow these steps on a seasonal basis, you should be on track for the moth free life!
Do Carpet Moths Eat Synthetic Carpets?
Another frequently asked question is about the fabric of the carpets which carpet moths’ prefer to eat. Even though carpet moths do not prefer to eat synthetic carpets, the fibers of synthetic carpets are still the perfect place for moths to hide their eggs.
Regardless of whether you don’t have wool or silk carpets (and a great many people don’t), that doesn’t imply that you will have a moth-free life. The fibers of synthetic carpets are as yet the ideal place for carpet moths to leave their eggs. At the point when these eggs incubate, the hatchlings may not eat the strands of manufactured carpets, but rather they will eat the soil that gathers in it.
Moth larvae need nutrients to grow and household dirt is packed with their food. Skin, hair, food spill collected on any bit of carpet can be a feast for them. When their population increases, adult moths try to find new places as breeding grounds and these may be another dirty dark corner of your carpets.
Are Carpet Moths Dangerous?
This is another crucial question to answer; are they dangerous? Luckily, they are not dangerous in themselves. The biggest threat they pose is of infestation of your house and food spoiling. This leads to increased living costs for you, although moths and their eggs are not dangerous to your health.
The main reason why the moths are dangerous is, that they can spread to your house very fast. In addition, moths can invade everywhere. The preferred places of moths are almost every place within your house which is difficult to access such as holes, cracks, inside walls etc.
Do Moths Die When You Touch Them?
Although there is a common belief that if you touch a butterfly or moth and rub scales off its wings, it will die, it is not true. Moths cannot be killed by merely touching them. Ther wings have tiny scales giving them wing patterns and make them more aerodynamic. These scales are like feathers of birds. But unlike birds, when they lost their scales, they can still fly. If the amount lost is big, it may make them less aerodynamic and affect their flight but they will not die.
Butterflies and moths naturally lose scales during their life by rubbing some off while emerging from their pupa, in addition to losing scales while flying, and from escaping from birds or other animals. Although moths are certainly delicate, they are much harder than many people think of them. A moth’s wing is designed to lose tiny scales.
How Do You Get Rid of Carpet Moths Naturally?
We talked about some methods for getting rid of moths. But what about non-toxic natural methods, which will not affect you in any way but still help you with your fight with carpet moths? You can vacuum regularly to remove any eggs or debris that might be on/in the carpet. You can make your own natural repellant that will also smell lovely.
You can place dried rosemary, thyme, cloves, lavender or bay leaves into a small cloth bag and hang them in your wardrobe and also place them in your drawers. You may also use mint leaves and peppermint oil as moth repellants. We love the smell of herbs, but moths hate them. You may want to change these herb bags when they lose their fragrance. You can buy your herbs from natural food stores or from some grocery stores.
Be sure to keep all your herbs and oils out of the reach of kids and pets. They may be natural, but it does not mean harmless.
What Temperature Kills Carpet Moth Eggs?
Moths can be killed by heating an infested textile for 30 minutes (or more) at temperatures above 120 F/50 C. Also, by ironing, you can kill all stages of the moth. Heat treatment with a space heater is another option for your closet and carpets. Keeping wool clothes and other unused textiles in the attic during hot summer days can help for protecting these textiles from moth infestation. Carpet moths would be killed if these textiles can remain hot enough for a long time.
Cold temperatures kill the moths as well as heat. For this treatment, it is enough to pack infested textiles into a plastic bag and put them in the deep freezer for at least one week.
A sudden change of temperature is another option for the treatment, especially from warm to cold. Storing wool textiles in unheated storages where temperatures are below freezing point for long periods can still not be enough for moth infestation. Cold storage areas may make moths inactive, but there is still a chance that it will not kill them.
When Are Carpet Moths Most Active?
As temperature rises, the population of moths rises as well. Summer days are the time that carpet moth population rises and reaches their most active days. Eggs hatch within 10 days during warm summer months but hatching take longer in winter; usually up to a month. Of course, not only temperature but humidity and food supplies are crucial for their life cycle. The carpet moths fly from April to October, but their most active season is the summer season.
During a day, at night time they are more active because hot, direct sunlight will drive away moths and kill eggs and larvae. Moths avoid light and are likely to be found in dark areas where woolens are stored. That is why they usually rest during the day and come out at night.
When disturbed, moths try to hide by flying to a dark corner or by hopping or running for cover. Carpet moths are not attracted to light as most believed and avoid lighted areas.