Our experienced team of editors and researchers contributed to this article and tested it for accuracy and completeness.
The number of sources used in this article is 29. You will find a list of them at the bottom of the page.
The wikiHow content management team carefully monitors the work of editors to ensure that each article meets our high quality standards.
Moth caterpillars represent the larval stage of development of this butterfly, which occurs immediately after the maturation of the eggs. Moth prefers to lay its eggs on clothes and in pantries with food, since it is in these places that there will be plenty of food for larvae hatching from eggs for growth and development. If you find moths in your wardrobe or kitchen, you probably already understand how harmful the moth caterpillars can be. Fortunately, you can get rid of them by properly cleaning the cabinets and pantries from the moth, destroying the caterpillars of the food moth and taking measures to scare off the moth in the future.
Moth warfare tactics and strategy
There are at least hundreds of different types of moths. Of these, about 20 are regularly found in human housing. In everyday life, moth is a collective concept that unites the species of Lepidoptera insects that feed on natural or mixed fabrics and fur (clothes moth), as well as various types of dry products and supplies (food).
Moths do not necessarily start in an untidy or dirty apartment; all that matters is the availability of suitable food. And she can get into the house in different ways:
- through open windows and windows - flies into the light,
- through ventilation shafts from neighboring apartments,
- with food from the store that is already infected with pest eggs,
- on clothes from second-hand stores,
- on furniture and carpets brought from the cottage or from relatives.
Varieties of Home Moles
Moth is a lepidoptera butterfly, active mainly at night. The insect refers to pests that cause significant damage to humans. The situation is explained by the fact that it is a keratophage, that is, the basis of its nutrition is the horny substance contained in products from wool and fur.
All types of moths are similar in appearance; they look like small gray or light brown butterflies. Scientists distinguish many species and genera of the insect, but most of them never appear in residential buildings.
Most often, people encounter the following varieties of butterflies:
- Food. This type spoils cereals, groceries and other products. Butterflies eating things practically do not catch the eye, but food moths fly freely through the kitchen. Insects lay their eggs about once every two months. The life expectancy of an adult is about a week. All this time she can hardly eat, but at the same time lay more than a hundred eggs.
- Wax. This species is well known to beekeepers. Adult pests may also not eat. On the contrary, its larvae eat almost everything in a bee hive: wax, honey, and bee bread. Entangling the honeycombs with their silk, they create a kind of barrier that prevents bees from caring for the larvae. This causes brood death. Wax moth larvae are often used in folk medicine, because they are rich in vitamins and minerals due to their specific diet.
- Wardrobe. It is this kind of moth that spoils clothes. Most of all, cotton items suffer from it. Wardrobe moth is similar to furniture, which eats carpets, furs and wool, so many generalize two varieties.
- Woolen. Representatives of the species have gray-yellow wings with small black spots. This moth usually settles in wardrobes. Even a plastic film cannot protect fur from it, since an insect can gnaw it. In addition, the butterfly can feed on books, feather pillows, and felt products.
- Furniture. The wings of this insect have a yellow-golden color. Moth most often finds shelter in upholstered furniture, eating its upholstery, but fur and wool are also included in its diet.
Actions when an insect appears in the apartment
To permanently get rid of moths in an apartment, it takes a lot of time and effort, so the fight should begin immediately after the detection of the pest. To completely destroy the moth, it is necessary to act in a comprehensive manner:
- At the first detection of butterflies, it is necessary to immediately examine the living room in order to identify all possible places for laying eggs or nests of larvae.
- If pest larvae are found, they should be immediately destroyed. To do this, the infected area must be thoroughly vacuumed and washed with soapy water with the addition of a chlorine-containing agent.
- If the butterfly was found in the closet, then it is necessary to inspect all the clothes, since insects can breed offspring even in things from synthetic fabrics.
- Clothing located in a moth-infected cabinet is recommended to be washed at the maximum permissible temperature. Items that cannot be processed in this way can be placed in the freezer for several hours. Low temperature, like high, will kill the pest larvae. Outerwear should be brushed, paying special attention to inaccessible and closed areas, for example, pockets. In addition, things can be treated with a steam generator.
- Items of textile decor, for example, curtains and carpets, should also be washed. If this is not possible, then things must be left for several hours to air in the open air under direct sunlight.
- When the pest is wound up in the kitchen, a thorough audit of the products is necessary. Moth-affected provisions cannot be eaten even after heat treatment. All kitchen furniture and various containers must be washed with an aqueous solution with the addition of chlorine or vinegar. After surface treatment, ventilate well.
Pest control methods
It is difficult to remove the moth in the apartment, but it is necessary to fight it. It should be borne in mind that the insect is able to live indoors all year, and its nests are well hidden from humans. Adult butterflies are able to live without food for a month. In a warm room, the insect can live for two years. During this period, the moth will lay a huge number of eggs, so you need to permanently get rid of moths in the house.
There are many chemicals that can effectively deal with moths. Among them, the most popular are:
- Dichlorvos. A popular chemical product helps poison insects on leather, wool, and fur.
- Spray can. Sprays can destroy moths even in hard-to-reach places, for example, in a bookcase or on shelves in the bathroom. Substances that are contained in aerosols have a detrimental effect on adults and their larvae. But you should use such funds with caution, avoiding contact with food and utensils.
- Fumigators. Unlike aerosols, they act slowly. It can take several weeks to completely get rid of the pests. This method is simple and convenient, because for its use it is enough to include a fumigator with a suitable substance in the network.
- Sections. Very convenient for dealing with a small butterfly. They are made with the scent of chamomile, lavender and mandarin. To protect children's things, you can purchase specialized insecticides. The action of one section extends to 15 m² and lasts for six months. But it must be borne in mind that the section should be at a sufficient distance from food and out of the reach of children.
When using chemical agents, you must strictly follow the instructions, since their careless use can cause serious harm to the human body or pet. In this regard, some people prefer folk remedies for insect control. The most effective methods of getting rid of moths are:
- Lavender, geranium, orange, fir or clove essential oil. It must be applied to cotton pads and laid out in cabinets. This method will not only scare away the pest, it will also give things a pleasant aroma.
- Sachet. Small pillows filled with dried branches of lavender and geranium are placed on shelves or hung next to clothes.
- Naphthalene. This tool has long been used to protect things from moths, but it is effective only against adult insects. The larvae are immune to its action. It should be noted that naphthalene vapors cause cancer.
- Garlic, tobacco, kerosene. Any of these tools can be used on a sachet basis. Slices of garlic, tobacco leaves or cotton swabs dipped in kerosene are placed in cloth bags that are left on furniture shelves. In addition, garlic, laid out in jars and bags of cereals, will protect products from food moths.
- Geranium, Coleus. The leaves of these indoor plants, spread out in a closet, scare the butterfly away with their aroma.
Getting rid of larvae
The greatest damage to property is caused by moth larvae. Like adults, they do not tolerate cold. All things infected by them need to be laid out in bags and placed in the freezer for about 30 minutes. After that, they must be warmed at room temperature and frozen again. These steps should be repeated at least 5 times.
In the summer, the sun will help fight pests. The clothes in which the larvae were found should be carefully tucked out and hung in the open. Good ventilation and direct sunlight are harmful to pests.
Features of the fight against the food butterfly
The result of the appearance in the kitchen of food moth is spoiled foods that should be immediately discarded. No processing can make them edible again.
Eggs, like pest larvae, are difficult to destroy. But moles can cause serious intoxication of the body, as well as cause significant harm to products. Do not use chemicals in the kitchen, therefore, you should use folk methods:
- After the elimination of infected products, survivors are placed in containers with tight lids.
- All cabinets in the room are thoroughly washed with soda solution.
- Access to water is restricted. For an adult, it is necessary for successful reproduction. All water pipes are inspected for leaks. If a leak is detected, it is eliminated.
- Each slit of the kitchen set is washed with an aqueous solution of vinegar, since usually in such places the butterfly lays eggs.
- Laurel leaves or walnut branches are laid out throughout the kitchen.
- Inshell dried chestnuts are placed in all kitchen cabinets and containers with flour and cereals, which must be changed periodically.
- In the cabinets they put containers with black allspice.
- The sink must be kept clean by wiping it dry after each dishwashing.
- The ventilation openings are covered with a fine mesh to prevent access of moths from the neighboring apartment.
The correct fight with the moth will bring a positive result, but still it is better to make sure that the pest does not wound up at all in the house. To do this, it is enough to take simple precautions:
- In cabinets, wool clothing should only be kept clean.
- Fur products should be kept in special covers. In addition, they can be wrapped in paper that is treated with a moth remover.
- Regular cleaning of the cabinets should be carried out. To do this, their shelves must be wiped with vinegar, and then thoroughly ventilated.
- Fur coats and coats with fur should be treated with anti-grinding agents.
- Skirting boards, especially in corners, chandeliers and windows need to be washed well.
- All living quarters should be regularly ventilated. It often needs to be wet-cleaned.
- Upholstered furniture must be thoroughly vacuumed at least twice a month. If it unfolds, then the inside should be wiped with a damp cloth.
- Old and unnecessary things should be thrown away.
- Groats should be stored in containers with tight-fitting lids.
- Cheap cereals contain a large amount of dust, which attracts moth larvae. It is recommended to give preference to high-quality cereals.
- The pest does not tolerate the smell of fresh newspapers, so wool and fur products can be wrapped in newsprint.
- Before long-term storage in a sofa or pantry, things should be well packed.
- If twisted carpets are stored in the apartment, they must be periodically deployed and vacuumed. This will prevent the spread of moths.
- In summer, winter clothes should be aired monthly in the sun.
The moth that appears in the apartment can spoil not only clothes and furniture, but also products, because this butterfly successfully reproduces in room conditions. There are many effective ways to deal with a pest, but it’s better to take measures to prevent it from becoming infected. To do this, it is enough to observe cleanliness and order, as well as regularly ventilate the apartment and clothes.
Housing Moth Menu
Types of food moths can specialize in different types of foods. Despite the fact that they look almost the same, the larvae of fruit, flour, grain moths and several types of moths that settled in the apartment are able to infect and spoil all dry supplies:
- flour and cereals
- nuts and beans
- dried fruits and candied fruits,
- tea and herbal preparations
- dried mushrooms.
A clothes moth eats not only fur coats, a more modest meal also suits her. Here are some things in the closet that could suffer:
- Natural fur products: fur coat, sheepskin coat, collars, hats. The caterpillar of the moth eats the entire hairs, leaving ugly bald spots.
- Knitwear from woolen threads: sweaters, socks, mittens. The threads are damaged, and even a small hole then spreads out due to the lowered loops.
- Dresses and suits made of woolen and mixed fabrics. The presence of 20% woolen fibers in the textile is sufficient to attract the attention of the pest.
- Woolen and semi-synthetic felt, insulation, as well as synthetic fibrous materials.
- Any natural and synthetic fabrics. Not eating them purposefully, the larva, in search of a wool meal, gnaws its way directly through the stacks of things lying on the shelves of the cabinet.
It is interesting how the moth larvae look on the fabric. The translucent body takes on the color of a textile dye, so do not be surprised to find painted tracks on bright things. Grains of moth feces will also have the color of the eaten fibers.
Reproduction and life stages of domestic moths
You can destroy the moth in the house by breaking the lepidopteran pest life cycle at any stage. If their eggs are almost impossible to detect due to their small size, then the larvae or nest of a moth with a pupa are quite distinguishable to the naked eye. In any case, for a successful fight, you need to imagine how the moth multiplies and at what speed.
Caterpillars, or larvae, are the feeding life stage of these insects. Sloppy holes on a woolen dress, bald patches on a fur coat and tunnels in dried fruits - their jaws are a thing. And their oral apparatus is very powerful, because for its actively gnawing life, the larva must stock up enough nutrients to pupate, develop into an adult butterfly and continue the genus. A suitable food substrate is sought by a fertilized moth whose larvae are inactive and spend their whole life in it.
Clothes and food moths in an apartment where humidity and air temperature suit it can multiply at any time, giving up to six generations of the pest per year.
The average life span of one individual is 5–10 weeks, depending on the species. During this time, a larva-caterpillar manages to hatch from the egg, thoroughly spoil the wardrobe or food supplies, wrap itself in a cocoon, mature and hatch in a flying butterfly.
After fertilization and egg laying, the butterfly dies, because this is where its life mission ends and its strength is exhausted. By the way, males males usually take “applause” of irritated hosts, because underdeveloped wings of females are unsuitable for flight.
Some differences in the appearance and development cycle of food and clothes moths are presented in the table.
Methods of dealing with moth larvae
It is difficult to get rid of a moth, because at the same time insects can be in the house at different stages of development. And a tool suitable for the destruction of all its species is not easy to find. Nevertheless, if you periodically audit the wardrobe and kitchen cabinets, apply measures that the larvae cannot tolerate, then chemical insecticides can be dispensed with.
Wardrobe moth does not like bright sunlight, high and low temperatures, does not tolerate some natural essential oils. On this and it is worth building a line of defense against gluttonous pests of clothing:
- The larvae of the clothes moth are not fixed on things, so you can get rid of them by shaking the woolen things over the bathtub. Then flush them down the drain so that they do not creep into the cracks.
- Wash in hot water (above 50 ° C). Only suitable for cotton or flax, in which moth larvae are also found.
- Woolen clothes in the summer can be warmed up, laying out on a surface exposed to sunlight. The larvae and eggs of the moth die at a temperature of more than 35 ° C.
- Caterpillars are also afraid of low temperatures. You can secure things by hanging them in the cold on the street or on the balcony.
- To destroy the eggs on the shelves and in the slots of the cabinet, its inner surface must be thoroughly washed with soapy water.
- If you want to use a chemical agent for moths (Raptor, Antimol, Armol), then things and shelves are treated with an aerosol.
Having got rid of a living moth, it makes sense to take preventive measures to prevent re-infection by insects. To do this, place in the closets what the moth is afraid of. To lay out bags of dry wormwood or lavender grass, sachets with essential oils from the store or fumigant plates on shelves and in pockets of outerwear.
Moth larvae are removed from food products and kitchen furniture in similar ways:
- If the cereal is not very affected, then it can be placed for 2 days in the freezer or taken out in the winter to an unglazed balcony. Then rinse and dry small grains, and sift large ones.
- The second method of heat treatment is roasting cereals sprinkled on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes. The temperature in the oven should be 100–120 ° С.
- Wash cabinets with soap and water, then with clean water and wipe dry.
- Process the corners and joints of kitchen cabinets with a solution of table vinegar in water in a ratio of 1: 1 with a brush. Exposure for 1 hour is enough to destroy the larvae hiding in secluded places. Then vinegar is washed off with a damp cloth.
- Pour disinfected products into sealed containers so that their smell does not attract new insects.
Prevention of the return of the moth to the kitchen consists in repelling it with aromatic substances of natural origin. On the shelves lay cloves of garlic or twigs of dried mint, dried orange peels. A flowerpot with geraniums on the windowsill, which leaves can be placed next to the food or in clothes, will not hurt.
The fight against moths can last for a while, it is important to show patience and not give up in order to restore cleanliness to the house, and to yourself - the status of the only owners.
Why does a mole wind up in a house and what do larvae look like
Like all “domestic” insects, moth settles in a person’s dwelling, as it is warm in it, there is a lot of tasty food available and comfortable nooks for breeding. The insect feeds on conventional products, as well as products from fur and wool. The moth larvae look like white worms with a dark head and six, legs. The size of the worms are quite large, reaching a two-centimeter length. But sometimes it is not possible to immediately notice the insidious “neighbor” in the house.
To avoid the massive resettlement of moths in an apartment or house, periodically you need to inspect wardrobes (especially with warm winter clothes), food.
What is a parasite dangerous?
Moth does not bite people and pets, is not a carrier of diseases. Harmful to a person causes tangible, as in large quantities spoils food, clothing, household utensils.
Favorite insects "dishes":
- cereals, flour, pasta stocks,
- cookies, crackers,
- nuts, seeds.
With pleasure, the moth eats available stocks of sweets (for example, sweets). In the places of its settlement, a cobweb, sticky to the touch, and microscopic scales are found. Worm larvae with their powerful jaws are able to gnaw entire moves in the food supply, simultaneously filling them with their own excrement.
Learn how to dry apples at home and how to store them.
Read how to clean a carpet without a vacuum cleaner without removing it from the floor at this address.
The mole does great harm to things in which she manages to lay eggs. It can be:
- carpets, upholstery of upholstered furniture made of natural fabrics (especially with a high content of wool in the composition),
- woolen sweaters, sweaters, socks, scarves, hats, mittens, down scarves,
- fur coats, jackets, hats.
If the reproduction of moths cannot be stopped in time, the hordes of larvae can be turned into a fur coat that is completely unusable during the summer season. Larvae eat out whole bald spots on fur, hollow through woolen materials, leave "moves" in sofas and armchairs.
The larva of a food moth in 5 weeks, and the worm - in 3 months, ripens before turning into a cocoon doll, from which a gray velvety moth butterfly subsequently hatches. The butterfly will no longer eat food and clothing, but in its short three-week life will have time to lay a new portion of eggs.
Inspection and cleaning
A thorough inspection of the apartment will require all the places where the mole could have started:
- pantries with food supplies, kitchen cabinets, balconies, loggias, if food is stored on them, bags with cereals, flour, sugar are opened and checked, contents are carefully examined,
- wardrobes, including those that store spare sets of bed linen, towels,
- fur, woolen, felt products require especially careful inspection,
- the basics of carpets, rugs, upholstery (look for visible damage, holes of unknown origin).
Of the chemicals used to kill moths:
- Aerosol products to combat domestic insects that are sprayed onto objects and surfaces of cabinets, shelves, trying to splatter all cracks and secluded places. Aerosols are toxic substances, they instantly kill adults, larvae and eggs.
- Naphthalene - a solid substance with a characteristic pungent odor, sold in tablets. The smell of naphthalene effectively repels moths, but is very “absorbed” into things (especially during long-term storage).
In doubt, whether measures to destroy insect larvae in affected clothing or an interior item have been successful, it remains to use the services of professional dry cleaning.
Moth is an insidious enemy that can appear in a person’s home literally at any moment. To prevent an unsolicited intrusion, it is enough to follow simple preventive measures.
- Cereals, flour can be infected with larvae of food moths in the store. If, inadvertently, a product is bought in a suspiciously damaged package, the product is calcined in the oven at a temperature of 60-70 degrees Celsius. This measure will help to destroy the eggs of the insect, if they are present in the product.
- Items made of wool, fur, natural fabrics should be carefully examined before purchase. If possible, wash a new thing at a temperature of 60 degrees before starting to wear.
- Store your favorite moth food is not recommended in soft packaging, but in jars, containers of glass, plastic, ceramics, closed with tight lids.
- A moth butterfly, ready for laying eggs, can fly into a window, door, or air vent. Mosquito nets will serve as protection against insect invasion.
- With the onset of winter, items of clothing and home interiors that are in the “risk group” are taken out to the cold (for example, a balcony, a loggia with subzero temperature), left for 1-2 days.
Herbs and pills, which have the ability to repel moths, are kept in cabinets and pantries constantly. Before storing seasonal warm clothes in the covers, they are carefully inspected, and the “anti-mol” is placed inside the cover.