The group of insects known as fabric pests includes silverfish, clothes moths and carpet beetles. Except for silverfish, the main food sought by fabric pests is a protein substance called Keratin present in fibers of animal origin such as wool, and even human hair. |
Clothes moths are usually blamed for insect damage on fabrics, but other insect pests, most notably carpet beetles, are also able to cause serious damage.
The immature stages (larvae) of both the clothes moth and carpet beetle feed on a variety of animal-based material, including wool, fur, silk, feathers and leather. Items commonly infested include wool sweaters, coats, clothing, blankets, carpets, down pillows, and comforters, natural bristle brushes, toys and animal trophies.
Neither the clothes moth nor the carpet beetle can digest cellulosic fibers such as cotton, linen, or rayon, or synthetic fibers such as polyester, nylon, or acrylic, so these are usually safe. However, synthetic fabrics that are blended with wool may be eaten. Cotton, linen and synthetics heavily soiled with food stains or body oils may also be occasionally attacked.
A complete inspection is necessary before beginning any control measures. Inspection:
Fabric pests like cloth moths are sometimes confused with pantry pest moths. They are close in size and appearance. Many times an infestation can start in a grain or meal product, but cloth moths will travel to your closet areas to infest the preferred source of woolens, ect.
Pantry moths will stay in the pantry areas. Check corners, under furniture that has not been moved for a long time, behind baseboards, etc.
It is important to remember that adults to not cause the damage, but the larvae do. The presence of adults in an area, doesn't mean that larvae are nearby, in that they may have laid their eggs in another room, and the adults are randomly moving around. Carpet beetle larvae tend to wander, so consider sites in addition to the place you first found larvae.
The adults like to fly towards light. The larvae of both clothes moths and the beetles prefer to feed in secluded, hidden places. Using a flash light and a small spatula may be necessary to seek out the larvae. The larvae may be found in dark clothes in closets, furs, woolens, and carpet bits, or other material in storage. They can also be found in lint and animal hair found under baseboards, edges of carpeting, under upholstered furniture, under edges of carpets, in air ducts, and occasionally in stored products in the pantry like cereals. The use of a knife blade or spatula will help examine the lint closely for live larvae or cast skins.
t is important to consider natural sources when making an inspection, such as woolens. Larvae are often attracted to soiled fabrics (such as clothing soiled with body oil or perspiration) and cracks and crevices where lint, food crumbs or dead insects accumulate.
Carpet beetle larvae may also feed on stored cereals, dry pet food and wool piano felts. Carpet beetle infestations are more likely to be discovered because of the damage they do, not because large populations are being found. Although larva and adults are easily killed, eggs and pupa are not. Look for articles of woolen clothing which may have been stored and neglected, and check the premises for old furniture and rugs which may be a source of a continuing infestation. Other important areas of concern may be include sites which represent the natural habitat of these insects.
Sparrow, starling, or other bird nests, inside or outside of the premises, are common points of origin. Bird nests in fireplaces and attics can be common sites. Wasp nests which are found under eaves and in attics are also common sources of carpet beetle and clothes moth infestations.
Another source of food material for carpet beetle and clothes moth larvae is accumulations of animal hair which may be found quite often in homes where pets are kept. Shed hair may accumulate in heating ducts, beneath furniture, or in hard-to-clean corners. Prevention and Sanitation:
Prevention is important in fabric pest. It is important to frequently and thoroughly vacuum carpet and upholstery, and dry clean susceptible clothing such as the woolens. To not store discarded garments, fur or animal pelts, old wool rugs, feather pillows, or such vulnerable fabrics for long.
Soiled fabrics such as synthetic fibers can also be attacked by these insects. Control Measures:
A complete inspection of the closets and other areas is the first order of business. The soiled garments, particularly woolens need to be dry cleaned or laundered.
After the inspection, critical areas should receive the special attention. The insecticides will kill exposed adults and larvae.
In carpets, it would be around the baseboards. In furniture it would be around the buttons, zippers and seams.
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