Fish moths, and common species of clothes moths, can cause irreparable damage to your entire wardrobe. Fortunately, they’re relatively easy to identify and destroy without the use of dangerous pesticides
Here’s how to eradicate these pests and protect your clothes from moths.
What attracts fish moths?
If you’ve noticed little silvery insects scuttling away from the light, you have a fish-moth infestation. Here’s why.
Access to a ready diet
A fish moth’s primary diet is cellulose. Cellulose is a key ingredient in book bindings, carpets, glue, paper, plaster, cotton, linen, wool and silk.
These items are most commonly found in the home, which is why fish-moth infestations are a problem in homes across the world.
Cupboards are the ideal environment
As well as access to a steady diet of their favourite food, fish moths are at their most effective – and destructive – in moist, gloomy environments. Closets, drawers and wardrobes are their perfect home.
In the ideal environmental conditions, females can lay up to 60 eggs at a time, multiple times a year, over an eight-year lifespan. When the nymphs hatch, they can eat several times their body weight. Jerseys, jackets, shirts and jeans are the main course.
How to get rid of fish moths
Fortunately, there are non-toxic treatments that are effective against fish-moth infestations. The best is the newspaper trick.
Create the perfect abode for fish moths
Fish moths love cellulose and are always looking for a moist area to breed. Place a slightly damp, rolled-up newspaper at the back of the attic, garage or your cupboard to create the perfect abode.
After a few weeks, remove and destroy the newspaper along with the extended fish-moth family.
Build an organic fish-moth trap
Wrap a glass jar in adhesive tape and fill it with flour. This acts as a natural fish-moth trap. The insects climb up and drop into the jar using the tape for traction.
Once they’ve consumed the flour, they’re unable to breach the smooth glass inner walls to escape.
Use strong-smelling plants as repellents
Scatter dried bay leaves, lemon rinds, mint or lavender into high-risk areas as repellents. This is an efficient way of preventing recurring fish-moth infestations.
Why moths actively seek out wardrobes
Fish months may be destructive but the case-bearing and webbing clothes moths are treacherous. These winged destroyers are tiny but their offspring are capable of demolishing clothing at a rapid rate.
Their main fare is garments made from fur, feathers, wool and mohair. When the clothes are dirty, so much the better. The residual body oils, skin flakes and food on soiled clothing activate a feeding frenzy in moth larvae.
Tips for protecting clothes against moth damage
As soiled clothing is a lure for moths, the first task is to clean all items in a hot water wash of at least 49°C. Dry cleaning is recommended for woollen jackets, jerseys and garments susceptible to shrinking.
Clean, vacuum and let in air and light
The cupboard, wardrobe or storage unit must be thoroughly vacuumed. Pay special attention to cracks, crevices and dark recesses. Allow in plenty of fresh air and light.
Use plastic storage containers
The best way to store clean clothing is in sealable plastic storage bins or vacuum-seal packing bags. Avoid cardboard cartons and materials with cellulose as an ingredient.
Garment bags for hanging items
Sealed garment bags provide the best protection for items on hangers. Leave the cupboard door open and move the clothes around once or twice a week.
Use mothballs for severe infestations
As a last resort, mothballs can be used to control severe moth infestations. Only use in homes without children and pets. Mothballs are made from highly toxic chemicals that can cause severe health problems when inhaled.
Now that you know how to protect clothes from moths, consider using self-storage for seldom worn and seasonal clothing.