Do Moths Eat Clothes? The answer is in fact, no, moths do not eat clothes. It is not the moths that eat your clothes, rather it is their larvae or their caterpillars that eat your clothes, leaving annoying holes in anything that stands in their path. That is of course if it’s made of animal fibers.
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We hear ya! It can be pretty annoying, and also a little bit disgusting to find out some scumbag moths have eaten a big whopper hole in your favourite cashmere jumper. But guess what,,, It wasn’t the moth. It was their slippery larvae offspring.
As we’ve discussed previously in the moth life cycle, it is basically impossible for certain breeds of moth to eat anything, this is as a result of the fact that they do not have mouths. They have to consume all the energy that they will need back in the larvae stage, as this is the only time that they will actually have a mouth. Clothes moths fall into this unfortunate category of mouthless moths. We wonder does this make those darn moth larvae even more ferocious when it comes to annihilating your threads. But how do the moths even get there to begin with? Well it starts when a female moth leaves a load of fertilized eggs, on the piece of your clothing that will make the most suitable meal upon their hatching. When we say a load of eggs, we’re talking anything from 50 – 1,000 eggs. That’s quite a lot of hungry caterpillars.
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So Why Do Moths Eat Clothes
Moth larvae tend to have quite a specific diet, that is why female moths usually choose clothes that are made using animal fibers like wool, cashmere, silk, angora, feathers, and fur. Basically, anything that contains keratin. Keratin’s composition is made up of fibrous structural proteins, the same kind of keratin that is found in our hair and skin. Moth caterpillars can sometimes even eat leather, not to mention pet or human hairballs. Luckily enough these moth larvae will try to avoid eating synthetic fabric or cotton, that is unless they are blended together with some sort of animal fiber. This is because there is not keratin content in these fabrics. So, avoid animal fibers where possible.
The most common type of this moth, the one that is responsible for destroying your clothes, is the Tineola Bisselliella or the webbing clothes moth. The name alone is the giveaway really. It actually contains the word clothes in it. These are smaller moths, smaller than pantry moths. Like other members of the Tineidae family, they have an extreme dislike towards light and prefer to hide deep in the darkest depths of your wardrobe. Where they can conveniently and discreetly leave their eggs on the closest and most suitable piece of your clothing. Once they’ve infested an item of clothing they’ll usually hang around and wait by it, until you find them that is.
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Clothes moths are golden brown. The reddish hairs on their heads are definitely their most identifiable feature. The adult moths will live 20-28 days and the females will lay at least 50 eggs that will take anywhere from 3-21 days to hatch. The main problem, which is the larvae, will be living and eating for up to 35 days. There are lots of different types of clothes moths that occur naturally across Europe and Asia but now have been spread with human clothing to every continent.
So, what are some of the different ways to get rid of these moths?
Firstly, if you spot a moth lurking anywhere near your clothes and the back of the wardrobe, it’s probably a good idea to give all your clothes a good wash and air them in the sun. If the space you’re keeping your clothes in seems a little damp, try to reduce the humidity in that spot. There are various things you can get such as these dehumidifying gels that can be a quick and cost-effective method for reducing the humidity.
The rumours about cedar are true! Moths as well as a lot of other insects can’t stand the stuff. Keeping clothes in cedar trunks or even better in a cedar wardrobe is an excellent way of deterring those pesky little clothes munchers. Failing that cedar chips or even these handy cedar hanging discs could be quite effective. But why cedar? How does it work so well? It’s because cedar oil actually kills the moth larvae. With that in mind as cedar ages, it loses its concentration of oil and along with it, its moth baby killing ability. You can always increase the concentration by adding oil, but just be careful not to get it on any of your clothes. We could imagine that would be a tricky stain to get out for sure.
There are slightly more sophisticated methods for getting rid of moths. For instance, take the pheromone trap. This device lures male moths in and covers them in powder. This powder causes female moths to think that the male is actually a female, and as such forces the moth to live out its days unable to reproduce. This method is definitely aimed at the crueler individuals who would rather try and force the moth to kill itself through soul-crushing inadequacy.
Lastly, a great natural remedy for keeping those annoying moths at bay, as well as ticks, and a lot of other insects is Indian Lilac or Neem. It really does works well as a moth repellent. You can place the leaves around or you can use an Indian lilac powder. Another option is to soak cotton balls in Neem oil and leave them in the back of your wardrobe, as close to moth hangout spots as possible. Again, we would caution you to take care not to get any oil on any of your clothing. It’s not as bad as a moth hole but it’s still pretty annoying.