Moths at a glance don’t seem harmful in the least, but quite the opposite is true. These tiny little insects look similar to a butterfly, but a much smaller version. They are diverse in size, shape, and color, and like the butterfly, they belong to the order Lepidoptera family.
However, moths outnumber butterflies 10-1 and are nocturnal insects, which mean they are most active at night. It is estimated that there are about 11,000 moth species in the United States alone. Life Science approximates this amount to be more than all the mammal species and bird species in North America combined. Moths don’t pose any immediate threats to humans, but they’ll cause havoc on your clothes, upholstery and food items in your pantry.
What Attracts Them To Your Home?
You’ll find these little insects hiding in your drawers, laundry baskets, and closets, chewing on your most expensive clothing and leaving holes in your favorite sweaters and jackets— they have a liking for cashmere and wool. Moths prefer warm, dark areas like inside your sofas and rugs. Small as they might be these little creatures can also chew through leather, yes leather! Interestingly, it’s not the adult moths that are causing havoc on your fancy garments, it’s the larvae. Adult moths don’t have mouths; shocking, I know!
Types Of Moths:
Not all moths should be of concern if you see them around your home, some are harmless. However, there are three main types that you should look out for; as they can do a bit of damage to your clothes and other items in your home.
Pantry Moth- This type of moth is sometimes called the Indian meal moth and is the most annoying type of the bunch, and the most destructive to say the least. These aggressive little insects will invade your drawers, closets, and pantries eating away at your items with as much zeal as they can muster up in their tiny bodies.
They look similar in color to the brown house moth except for their wings which are grey. If you spot these in your home, you need to act immediately. Female moths can lay up to 300 eggs at a time and when these start to hatch you officially have an infestation on your hands.
Clothes Moth- The name alone should be a dead giveaway; I mean it contains the word ‘clothes.’ These moths are smaller in size than the pantry moth and they tend to not only stay in your closet and drawers, they have a penchant for natural fabrics, i.e. wool. They also like to infest blankets, rugs, upholstery, etc. Once they infest a piece of clothing they tend to stay around it, until or unless you find and destroy them.
Clothes moths have a golden brown color and their most distinguishing feature is the reddish hairs on their heads. Adult clothes moths have a lifespan of 20-28 days and the females lay anywhere between 40-100 eggs which takes 3-21 days to hatch. However, the real source of the problem, the larvae can live up to 35 days.
Brown House Moth- These are the ones hiding in your food pantry, feeding on your dry goods and lurking in the closet having a meal out of your sweater. These little insects (female) can lay upwards of 600 eggs. You’ll recognize this type of moth by their brown wings with little bronze specks on top. They are a little less than half an inch long.
7 Natural Home Remedies To Get Rid Of Moths
Your first step should be a deep cleaning of any and all areas where you’ve seen the moths. Clean out your cupboards and throw away food and other items that they’ve come in contact with. If moths are present in your kitchen you’ll notice moth webbings, secretions and there will be a foul smell as well. The good news is that we have some natural remedies for these pesky insects!
1. Indian Lilac (Neem)
Also known as Neem, Indian lilac works as a good repellent for moths. The leaves of this natural herb can be used by placing them in your kitchen cupboards (fresh leaves are best). If you have the Indian lilac powder, use it to dust shelves and other areas in your closet. You can also purchase Neem oil and soak it in cotton balls and place them around the house in areas that are infested with moths. This will keep these pesky critters at bay.
2. Cinnamon Sticks
Wrap a few pieces of cinnamon sticks in paper and place them throughout your closets, cupboards, and drawers. The scent will chase the moths away and keep others from coming in. The smell of cinnamon can be quite overpowering that’s why it’s important to wrap them first. If the cinnamon scent sticks to your clothing just give them a good wash after the moths are gone.
3. Cedar Chips
If you can get your hands on cedar chips these are very effective at eliminating your moth problems. Apparently, moths can’t stand the stuff, so keep a bag of freshly cut cedar chips in the infested area and it will keep them away. These handy cedar wood discs can be put on your hangers to deter moths from ruining your clothes.
4. Diatomaceous Earth (DE)
An effective natural remedy for many pests, insects, and rodent infestation; it’s always a good idea to keep food grade Diatomaceous earth in your home. This is a whitish colored powder which is made by breaking up soft sedimentary rocks. It is scentless, non-toxic to humans or pets, and also odorless. You can use this remedy in your cupboard, drawers, and closet and anywhere else you see signs of moth.
Since moths are such delicate little insects the Diatomaceous earth is quite lethal to them. If the moths swallow the DE it shreds their insides because the DE dust has very sharp edges. If the moths even pass through the DE dust it cuts their protective covering, eventually drying them out and killing them in a matter of minutes. Once they come in contact with Diatomaceous earth your moth problems will be over.
The vacuum doesn’t just get rid of lint, dead insects, food particles and other things that the moths can feed on. It does much more than that, vacuuming can catch moths that you might not have even noticed on your drapes, carpets, and rugs. To really get to those hard to reach places, be sure to get a vacuum that has an attachment and a HEPA filter that can really trap dust and dirt.
When you’re vacuuming, do not leave any stones unturned; get into all the little cracks and crevices, along windowsills, underneath the beds and sofas, inside the cupboards, EVERYWHERE!
This is another natural method that will kill those nasty moths but won’t cause you any harm in the process. You can make a moth bait by mixing cornmeal with Borax and putting it in a container. Set the bait in areas where moths occupy and check it every couple of days to remove the dead moths. You’ll need to refresh the bait every three weeks.
Borax can also be used on its own; just clean out the areas first as this is really a preventative method. After you’ve properly wiped and dusted your cupboards, drawers and closets sprinkle a little of the Borax powder to prevent the moths from entering the space. You can also sprinkle borax in cracks, behind appliances, sofas and those nitty-gritty areas where these tricky little insects might be hiding.
7. Lavender Sachets
A few different herbs such as thyme and rosemary can prove helpful in eliminating moths. However, none has proven more effective than lavender. You can opt for a lavender spray or even use the dry flower itself if you can get your hands on them. Some people create their own lavender sachets by putting lavender powder in tiny pieces of cloth then tying the ends to keep the powder inside. Alternatively purchase some ready made lavender bags here. You can place these in your drawers and closets to keep the moths out and as a bonus, they’ll also leave your clothes with a sweet lavender scent.
Preventing Moth Infestation
You know the popular saying “prevention is better than remedy,” I think we’ve learned by now that this is true. It’s better to prevent moth infestation than trying to rid your home of these annoying insects. Here are some ways you can help to prevent moths from invading your space.
- Every couple of months move around your furniture; bed, dining room chairs, sofas etc. Remember moths enjoy hiding out in dark spaces so if you move stuff around they won’t have anywhere to hide.
To protect your clothing from being destroyed by moths here are some important things you can do:
- Install lights in your closet so that destructive little moths won’t have anywhere to hide.
- Make sure you’re clothes are clean and free of crumbs, stains, and any food particles. The moths are not eating your clothes because they enjoy the taste of it; they are actually searching for the tiny remnants of food that might be on them.
- Clothes that are sensitive to moths (silk, wool) should be cleaned and safely stored in garment bags or airtight plastic bins.
- If you buy used or vintage clothing take them to the laundromat for a proper heat treatment. They must be properly cleaned before hanging them in your closet. You might be bringing moths inside your home without even knowing it. The same goes for used furniture, give them a proper dusting and cleaning before bringing them into your home.