How to Get Rid of Moths: Simple and Effective Methods for a Moth-Free Home

Moths can be a frustrating household pest, causing damage to clothing, furniture, and food. These insects are attracted to dark, undisturbed spaces where they can lay their eggs and thrive. There are various methods to eliminate moths and prevent them from causing damage in your home.

For instance, disposing of infested food items can be an effective way to eliminate pantry moths. Pheromone moth traps can be used to attract and kill any remaining moths in the area. Similarly, for clothes moths, thoroughly vacuuming your closet can remove eggs and larvae, preventing further damage to your clothes. Remember to discard the vacuum bag outside immediately to avoid re-infestation.

Some methods for moth prevention include regularly cleaning and sealing off potential hiding spots, using moth-repellent products, and maintaining a well-ventilated home. Each method has its pros and cons, so it’s crucial to weigh your options and find the best solution for your specific situation.

Identifying Moths and Their Habits

Types of Moths

There are different types of moths that can infest your home. Two common types include:

  • Clothes Moths: These moths feed on animal fibers, like wool, fur, silk, feathers, and leather, which contain keratin1.
  • Pantry Moths: Commonly found in food storage areas, they infest grains, nuts, and other dry food items2.

Moth Life Cycle

The moth life cycle consists of four stages:

  1. Egg: Adult female moths lay eggs on suitable food sources or materials.
  2. Larva: Newly hatched larvae feed on the available material until they’re ready to pupate.
  3. Pupa: In this stage, the larva undergoes metamorphosis and transforms into an adult moth.
  4. Adult: The adult moth emerges, begins to mate and lay eggs, continuing the cycle3.

Common Habitats

Here are some common moth habitats, based on the moth types:

Moth Type Common Habitats Example
Clothes Moth Closet, drawers, and wardrobes Infesting woolen sweaters and silk ties
Pantry Moth Kitchen cabinets and pantries Invading boxes of cereal and nut containers

Keep your home clean and well-sealed to prevent moth infestations:

  • Clothes Moths: Store clothes in sealed containers, vacuum closets frequently, and clean fabrics before storing1.
  • Pantry Moths: Keep food in airtight containers, clean up spills quickly, and inspect food packages for potential infestations2.

Preventing Moth Infestations

Proper Storage Techniques

To prevent moth infestations, store your clothes and fabrics in sealed, airtight containers or bags. For items like fur, wool, and silk, use cedarwood hangers since moths dislike the scent of cedar. Cedar also repels other insects, such as ants and carpet beetles.

For pantry items like grains, cereals, and flours, use airtight containers to store them. Here are some popular storage methods:

  • Sealed plastic bags
  • Airtight containers
  • Glass jars with lids
  • Vacuum-sealed bags

Another helpful tip is to freeze items for a few days, which can kill moth eggs and larvae before storing them.

Cleanliness and Maintenance

Regular cleaning is essential in preventing moth infestations. Vacuum your carpets, baseboards, and fabrics to remove any moth eggs and caterpillars. Do not forget to clean your closets and storage areas, as moths commonly lay eggs in undisturbed spaces.

For fabrics, it is a good idea to dry clean or launder them before storing, as moths are more attracted to dirty items. For hard-to-reach cracks and crevices, use a mixture of hot water and white vinegar to wipe them down. The vinegar serves as a natural repellent against moths and other pests.

Natural Repellents

There are several natural repellents that can help keep moths away. Some effective herbs and essential oils include:

  • Lavender
  • Bay leaves
  • Cloves
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Cedar oil

You can use these herbs and oils in sachets, cotton balls, or diffusers to deter moths from your closets or pantry.

Another environmentally friendly option is using moth traps with pheromones. These sticky traps attract and capture adult moths without using harmful chemicals.

Pros and Cons of Natural Moth Repellents

Pros Cons
Eco-friendly May not be as effective as chemical options
Safe for people with allergies May require frequent application or replacement
Usually have a pleasant scent Limited range, may need several to cover larger areas

In summary, proper storage techniques, regular cleaning and maintenance, and using natural repellents can help prevent moth infestations in your home. By following these guidelines, you can save your belongings from moth damage, and keep your home pest-free.

Eradicating Moths from Your Home

DIY Pest Control

To deal with a moth infestation, start by inspecting your pantry and other storage areas for moth eggs and larvae. Remove any infested items, and clean shelves with a vinegar solution.

Examples of DIY moth control methods:

  • Place moth traps in areas with high infestation
  • Use natural repellents like cedar or lavender
  • Seal food items in airtight containers to prevent future infestations

Pros of DIY moth control:

  • Cost-effective
  • Can be done immediately

Cons of DIY moth control:

  • May not completely eradicate moths
  • May require multiple attempts

Hiring a Pest Control Service

If the infestation is extensive and DIY methods are not effective, consider hiring a professional pest control service like Orkin. They can assess the situation and recommend the best course of action.

Comparison Table: DIY Pest Control vs. Hiring a Pest Control Service

Aspect DIY Pest Control Pest Control Service
Cost Low High
Time Immediate Scheduled
Effectiveness Varies High
Specialized Expertise None Yes

Characteristics of a good pest control service:

  • Licensed and insured
  • Experienced in dealing with moths
  • Offers a warranty or guarantee on their work

Benefits of hiring a pest control service:

  • More effective in eradicating moths
  • Can handle other household pests like ants, spiders, and cockroaches
  • Provides long-term solutions to prevent future infestations

Drawbacks of hiring a pest control service:

  • More expensive than DIY methods
  • May require you to leave your home during treatment processes like fumigation

To keep moths at bay, maintain a clean living space, vacuum carpets and pet hair regularly, and store clothes and food items in sealed containers. Implementing these practices will help minimize the risk of future moth infestations.

Dealing with Moth-Related Allergies

Identifying Moth Allergens

Moth allergens are mainly caused by moth larvae or caterpillars. They may also come from fabrics, silks, and carpets where adult moths have laid their eggs. Common allergy symptoms from moths can include skin irritation, itchy eyes, and a runny nose. Here are some examples of allergens associated with moths:

  • Caterpillar hairs
  • Mothball smell
  • Insect waste

Removing Allergens from Your Home

Take these steps to minimize moth allergens in your home:

  • Store vulnerable items like fabrics and silks in airtight containers
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture regularly
  • Use moth repellents, such as cedar chips or lavender sachets
  • Clean any moth-infested areas thoroughly

For long-term solutions, consider these moth-prevention measures:

  • Seal cracks and crevices to keep moths from entering your home
  • Avoid storing clothing for long periods of time without use

Immediate Remedies

If you are already experiencing symptoms from moth allergens, consider these immediate remedies:

  • Wash any affected areas with mild soap and water to remove allergens
  • Use an oral antihistamine to alleviate itching and irritation
Method Pros Cons
Airtight containers Highly effective Not suitable for larger items
Regular vacuuming Prevents buildup of allergens Requires frequent maintenance
Oral antihistamines Fast relief Does not remove the allergen source

In summary, dealing with moth-related allergies involves identifying the sources of allergens, removing those allergens from your home, and using both short- and long-term methods to prevent them from returning. Proper storage, cleanliness, and immediate symptom relief will help keep moth allergens at bay.

Natural Ways to Get Rid of Moths

Herbal Sachets

Moths can be naturally deterred using herbal sachets filled with a mixture of aromatic herbs. Examples of herbs to include in sachets are:

  • Lavender
  • Bay leaves
  • Cloves
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

These herbs can help protect your clothing and pantry items from moth infestations. Place sachets in closets, drawers, or storage containers with items prone to moth damage, such as grains and silks.

Homemade Moth Traps

Create your own moth traps using a combination of harmless household items. Here’s an example of how to make a simple moth trap:

  1. Mix equal parts of white vinegar and dish soap in a bowl.
  2. Cut a piece of cardboard and coat one side with the vinegar-soap solution.
  3. Place the trap near areas with moth activity.

Moths will be attracted to the trap and become stuck in the soapy mixture.

Safe and Natural Cleaning Solutions

Regular cleaning is vital in preventing moth infestations. Safe and natural cleaning solutions can be used to keep your home moth-free, such as:

  • White vinegar and water solution: Mix equal parts white vinegar and water to create an effective, all-purpose cleaning solution. Use it to wipe down shelves, floors, and any areas where moth activity has been observed.

  • Soapy water: Mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water. Use the mixture to clean surfaces and fabrics that may harbor moth eggs or larvae.

Cleaning Solution Pros Cons
White Vinegar and Water Eco-friendly, multi-purpose, repels moths Mild vinegar smell
Soapy Water Effective, gentle on fabrics May not repel moths as well as vinegar

Additional Tips

  • Store clothing and textiles in airtight storage containers or bags to protect them from moths.
  • Use cedar wood blocks or chips in closets and drawers, as the scent repels moths.

Footnotes

  1. (http://entomology.ca.uky.edu/ef609) 2

  2. (https://www.maine.gov/dacf/mfs/forest_health/invasive_threats/browntail_moth_faqs.htm) 2

  3. (https://content.ces.ncsu.edu/clothes-moths-carpet-beetles-controlling-fabric-pests)

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Raspberry Pyrausta Moth!

 

I finally ID’d that pink and white micro moth!
Please reference previous subject line: " Hello Cutey! Pink & White moth June 26, 2006 "
Hi again, After just sending a moth photo to you earlier today, I came across this little cutey flitting around my kitchen. Her length is 6/16ths inches from snout to wing tip and the same measurement across, from wing tip to wing tip while sitting still in the position seen in the photo. She’s a very nervous type, and it was hard to get this shot as she would take off every time I got near. Luckily, she’s not a very strong flier so she never went far. Can you help identify it? I’m thinking Tiger moth family? Again, I’m in the Chicago area, in Kane County, Illinois and this is another first time spotting this type of moth. It’s a real blessing to be seeing so many moths this year after they sprayed our whole area for gypsy moths a couple years ago and it effectively exterminated most butterflies and moths as well. 🙁 Thanks for having such an awesome site to come to with questions. I almost always find the id’s I’m looking for, or at least something in the same family to put me in the right direction. Cheers! Michelle

Hi again, I dropped you a line asking about this moth but now I’ve gotten my answer. It’s a Raspberry Pyrausta Moth! (Pyrausta signatalis) Appropriate name considering the beautiful color, don’t you think? Though many of this subfamily of micro moths are considered crop pests, this particular one’s larval form feeds on mints (the plants of course! LOL) I was wondering if that might make it taste bad to predators? Or at least it would give them better breath! LOL You can see it for identification on the "moth photographers group" website. (I also sent you a note about this cool site today, in case you’d never seen it) Here’s the link to the page with this moth on it:
http://mothphotographersgroup.msstate.edu/Files/JV/Plate25.1.shtml
It’s number 5034 on plate number 25.1 , according to a Mr. Bob Patterson of Bob’s Entomology Hobby in Maryland (he’s a contributor of that website " photographers group"
Also found it on their Live Moth plates on this page. This is where you can see them as they naturally pose when alive. Lastly, I did find it on the BugGuide site eventually, though their pic was of a vary worn out dull looking moth, I didn’t recognize it when I was looking there before. I have sent them my pic in case they’d like to use it too. Have a great day!
Michelle Nash – Official Nature Nut
PS – I sooooo love your site!

Hi Michelle,
Thank you for following up on your original letter. We get as many as 100 requests per day and have no staff. Only the tiniest fraction can be posted and a few more are given brief answers. As we did not immediately recognize your moth, it was on the back burner until we had time for research. Thank you so much for giving us all the information you discovered. Imagine that amount of web research x 100 letters per day, plus time to reformat and post to a website, and perhaps you will understand our situation.

Letter 2 – Red-Waisted Florella Moth

 

Red-waisted Florella Moth
Sun, Oct 12, 2008 at 5:28 PM
I Found many of these moths on, Bidens bipinnata (Spanish Needle). They never close their wings, even when under leafs. I hope they don’t think they are hiding.
F. Allen
Palmetto, Florida

Red Waisted Florella Moth
Red Waisted Florella Moth

Dear F. Allen,
Thanks so much for providing a photo of a new species for our site.  We matched it to an image  on the Moth Photographers Group website.  The scientific name is Syngamia florella.

Letter 3 – Second Annual Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park

 

Second Annual Moth Night in Elyria Canyon Park:  Read about it in EastSiderLA
Location:  Elyria Canyon Park, Mount Washington, Los Angeles, California
Saturday, July 27 2013

Sponsored by What’s That Bug? and  the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance, in cooperation with the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy (SMMC) and Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority (MRCA). Gate opens at 7 p.m.; event begins 7:30 p.m. (sunset 7:58 p.m.) Light refreshments may be served. No restroom facilities. Lepidopterist Julian Donahue will talk about the moths that come to the black and mercury vapor lights. Daniel Marlos, webmaster for “What’s That Bug” and author of “The Curious World of Bugs,” will also be on hand to share his knowledge. Bring a flashlight.

National Moth Week
National Moth Week

Located on the southwestern slopes of Mount Washington, Elyria Canyon Park is a 35-acre nature park that provides a glimpse into the native habitat that once thrived in the hills near downtown Los Angeles. A network of trails meanders through fragrant communities of coastal sage scrub, chaparral, grassland and purple needlegrass. The park boasts one of the finest examples of California black walnut woodland in Southern California. The trails lead to vistas of the Los Angeles River, Griffith Observatory, and the city.

Black Witch on a Bicycle Tire
Black Witch on a Bicycle Tire

Directions: For this event use the Bridgeport entrance (1550 Bridgeport Drive, Los Angeles). Exit off the 2 (Glendale) Freeway at San Fernando Road (just north of Interstate 5 and State 2 interchange). Travel southeast on San Fernando Road; turn left on Division Street, turn right on Wollam Street, go 2 blocks and turn right on Scarboro Street, then next left on Bridgeport Drive. Park where you can on Bridgeport, or follow it to its end and park in the park (limited parking).

Photo from Moth Night 2012
Photo from Moth Night 2012

Letter 4 – SECOND ANNUAL NATIONAL MOTH WEEK JULY 20-28, 2013

 

February 14, 2013
What’s That Bug and the Mount Washington Homeowners Alliance are thrilled to be partners in the second annual National Moth Week event scheduled for this July.  Mark you calendars now and attend a local event near you.  We had a wonderful event last year in Elyria Canyon Park and we look forward to planning something this year as well.

If you’d like more information about National Moth Week or to participate and register a location, visit the website at www.nationalmothweek.org, email us at dmoskowitz@ecolsciences.com or liti@nationalmothweek.org.

Letter 5 – South African Moth: Automolis lateritia lateritia

 

South African moth
Hi!
I have written previously but the e-mail probably got lost. I live in Clarens in the Freestate in South Africa. This moth came fluttering into my kitchen one evening. It sat on the white tiled wall. There was too much reflection when photographing so I placed it onto an African Violet plant. I looked through all your moth pictures, but could not see one like it. I would be so pleased if you could id it for me. Kind regards,
Irmgard Kaiser

Hi Irmgard,
Sorry, but we really cannot answer every letter. Sadly, we do not know what your lovely moth is.

Hello again, Thank you for your response. I have managed to have the moth identified. I got feedback from the National Collection of Insects at the South African Agricultural Research Council. The moth belongs to the family Thyretidae and genus Automolis. It is probably Automolis lateritia lateritia Herrich-Sch

Letter 6 – Spiders and a Moth from Costa Rica

 

foreign bugs
Hi Bugman –
Your site is great! It looks like you are getting many foreign bugs now – so here are some from my recent trip to Costa Rica, bug paradise. A really cool spider that I think is a Micrathena, a huge wolf spider that I found in my bed when I woke up one morning (first I screamed, then I grabbed my camera) and one of the many beautiful moths I saw. Thanks again for all your great work,
Allison

Hi Allison,
All of your photographs are stunning. We agree with your Micrathena identification. The Wolf Spider might be a Wolf Spider, and we do not recognize the beautiful Moth.

Update: Eric Eaton just provided us with the following information. ” Ok, the spiders from Ecuador and Costa Rica: They are most likely NOT wolf spiders, but wandering spiders, either in the family Ctenidae or Sparassidae. They tend to be more common, and even larger than, wolf spiders in the tropics. At least one species, Phoneutria fera, is extremely aggressive, with potentially deadly venom. Do not mess with large spiders in Central and South America! The venomous types are very difficult to distinguish from harmless species, and in any event, a bite is going to be really painful. These spiders sometimes stow away in bananas, houseplants, and other exported goods, so they can show up in odd places. Be careful where you put your hands:-) Oh, the lovely yellow moth is probably some kind of noctuid, which narrows it down to only several thousand species. Just thought I’d help you out there:-) Take care. Eric”

Letter 7 – Syngamia florella

 

(05/31/2007) whats this orange bug?
I went outside late one night and this pretty orange bug was on the porch ceiling What is it? Thanks,
Melanie (Ft Lauderdale)

Hi Melanie,
We needed to do some research, but we located your moth, Syngamia florella, on BugGuide.

Letter 8 – Unknown Beautiful Moth from Florida

 

moth Ailanthus or Utetheisa morph?
While I was in Kinko’s waiting on my order I noticed this gorgeous moth sitting on a table in the store. The moth measured about 1/2" long. I checked your site and didn’t find a moth that matched it, nor did I find it in any of my insect reference books. I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The moth was really quite stunning and I’m very interested in finding out what it is!! Thank you for your help, I know you’re swamped with requests. Just remember all of your efforts are greatly appreciated!
Kara

Hi Kara,
We tried for about 20 minutes to identify your gorgeous moth, and were unsuccessful. We think this might be one of the Ermine Moths related to the Ailanthus Webworm, but it might also be one of the Arctiids. Living in Florida, there is always the chance things will blow in from the tropics.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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