The Webbing clothes moth and Casemaking clothes moth are the two moth varieties that can be pests inside the home. Adult moths do not have mouthparts so do not eat anything. It is the larval or caterpillar stage in the moth's life that ravenously devours wool, feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, dust, paper or anything else containing keratin. Keratin is the stuff your hair and fingernails are made out of and moth larvae could eat that too.
Clothes moths adults are nocturnal and like dark places to lay their eggs. They are not attracted to bright lights like many other kinds of moths, so that moth flying around your TV screen probably is not a clothes moth. Female clothes moths cannot even fly. They hop or run to move about.
Clothes moths are small, so if you see a large moth inside your home that is attracted to a light source, it is probably nothing to worry about as far as stored clothing is concerned.
The moth larvae are small, white, and wormlike. They spin silken cases as they feed. Look for silk threads or small, irregular shaped holes on clothing infested by clothes moths. The clothes also might be covered in a fine, white powder, which is the larvae's excrement. Clothes damaged by clothes moths are nearly impossible to mend properly because of the jagged holes they leave.
To protect your clothing from clothes moths, store it in places where the moths can't get in. Tight fitting plastic containers can keep moths out, as will tight fitting doors. You could also use light as a tool to combat clothes moths. Sunlight or high pressure sodium lights will discourage the shy moths.
Mothballs can be effective, but there are some drawbacks to using them. Mothballs are not a repellent, they actually kill moth eggs, larvae and adults when they are used in storage areas that have no ventilation and the fumes are allowed to build up in the air. Mothballs are ineffective in spaces where there are air currents. Naphthalene was the most commonly pesticide used in mothballs, until recently. Naphthalene is less popular now because it is flammable, toxic to humans and might be a carcinogenic. For this reason, air out clothing that has been stored with mothballs before wearing them. Mothballs have a strong, repugnant odor, so you will probably want to air out the clothing anyway unless you don't care about people avoiding you when you walk into a room. Other pesticides used in mothballs include dichlorobenzene and camphor. Both of these types of mothballs also have a strong odor and are somewhat toxic.
Non-toxic clothes moth treatment options like sticky pheromone traps can be used to control clothes moths. These traps attract the male moths and are safer for human health than mothballs. If an infestation exists, the traps might not be enough by themselves to solve your problem.
Keep stored items that contain natural fibers very clean. Ironing clothing with kill the eggs and larvae of clothes moths. Vacuuming can also be effecting in getting rid of lint or hair that might provide a food source for clothes moths. Don't store anything that is stained because these items are especially attractive to the clothes moths.
Storing clothing in cedar chests can prevent moths because they avoid the oil from this kind of wood. Cedar oil might need to be reapplied to old chests. Odor is, again, an issue, but at least you won't clear a room if you smell of cedar oil.
Wise preventative measures against clothes moths will save you money and help you get back in style when those stored vintage fashion make a comeback. GQ says retro is in.