Often moth damage is not always easily discernible to the naked eye, and can only be detected under magnification. Larvae will often feast on the backside of a pile fabric or on a tastier color thread in a woven item. |
Spotting the actual presence of moths in their 3 different forms requires vigilance – the eggs are tiny (typically c0.5mm long) and the moth larvae several millimetres long at first, but growing as they develop. The adult moth form is usually 1.5cm long and is obviously easier to spot in flight, but because it is also very small it is able to get into tight crevices in your clothing storage areas. Moths prefer to lay their eggs in dark, undisturbed areas – check corners of drawers and wardrobes, skirting boards and architraves etc.
Signs of clothes moths will present themselves as either damage to clothing, the eggs, larvae or adult moths themselves, or both.
Clothing damage will most frequently occur in knitwear (commonly wool, cashmere, alpaca or angora), silk or leather garments. The damage will present itself as irregular ‘holes' in clothing and the size of the holes will depend on how long moth larvae have been left undisturbed to eat the protein based fibres and whether there are any stains or moisture (e.g. residue from perspiration) present on the garments. Clothing moth damage can occur in drawers, wardrobes and cupboards – moths are indiscriminate.
With central heating being so common, signs of moth problems may present themselves at any time of the year with the breeding cycle being extended all year round. If the weather or your house is particularly cold at a particular time, it is merely likely to slow the lifecycle stages but extend the damaging larvae stage.
To identify the presence of moths, look for one or more of these signs
* Flying moths -- the common clothing moth (tineola bisselliella) is the villain. It's small, 3/8" long or less, and is usually silvery tan or soft brown in color. This moth flies slowly but with a rapid flutter of small wings. If you try to snatch one out of the air, the clothes moth folds its wings and drops to the floor. * Bare spots in the pile of a rug or garment-- often moth larvae will prefer the taste of one color yarn to another, and so the bare spots may involve some specific colors but not others. * Webs -- white gossamer filaments covering a patch of the garment (often only present with a bad infestation). * * Cocoons -- 1/8" diameter x 1/2" long slightly fuzzy cylinders usually the same color as the fabric (larvae camouflage their cocoons to blend in with the color of the fabric that surrounds them). This ability of the larvae to camouflage itself is the prime reason that moth damage is not often detected until after an item has been cleaned or vacuumed, removing the cocoon and exposing the damage. * Larvae in the fabric or fur-- slender, white, worm-like moth larvae about 3/8" long can sometimes be seen just after hatching, before they've constructed cocoons. It is the larvae that actually eat the fibers. * Sand-like particles down in the fabric, fur or rug-- this material, often tan or brown in color, regular in size, and granular in look, is the excretion of the larvae. * Broken/loose layers or missing threads -- where the larvae have chewed through an organic yarn, leaving a synthetic yarn in tact. * Smooth, blending holes or holes that have the appearance of pitting, pinpoint holes or nicks on the surface fabric - these holes are different from puncture holes or rips which generally have a jagged edge
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