Little moths flying around your home are usually meal moths. Meal moths are about a half-inch long at rest, and arrive on food or food containers. They eat dry foods like grains, crackers, dried fruit, cereals and pet food and can survive on tiny crumbs in cabinet corners. Clothes moths are likely to be found crawling on clothes in drawers and closets or fluttering nearby.
Clothes moths are smaller than meal moths, about a quarter-inch long at rest, and can hitchhike into your home on second-hand furniture or clothes. They eat wool, furs, feathers, other natural fibers and dirt in any fabric.
- Store food in airtight containers or in the refrigerator or freezer. Keep cupboards and drawers clean with soap and water and scrub or vacuum corners and crevices regularly.
- If there is webbing or larvae in any dry food, dispose of the infested food in the garbage or compost. When you buy new dry goods, don't mix the old with the new, in case the old food has moth eggs or larvae you missed.
- Flying moths can be killed by hand if you're quick enough, but pheromone traps may be more effective. Find them in hardware stores.
- Never use pesticides for meal moths – they are not effective and expose your food and family to poisonous chemicals.
- Keep clothes clean and well-sealed or used regularly. Sweater bags and wooden chests with tight-fitting lids work well for storage. Wash items before storing them. It helps to shake, air out and sun clothing occasionally. Discard or donate woolens, leather and feather products that are no longer used to avoid contaminating newer materials.
- Vacuum carpets, drapes, furniture, closet corners, heater vents and anywhere lint, hair and dirt can accumulate, like behind furniture and along baseboards.
- If you find moths, their little cocoons, or larvae on fabric, kill them simply by washing in hot water (at least 120 degrees for 20-30 minutes). Or place items in the freezer for several days, pull them out for an hour and then put them back in for a few more days.
- Pheromone traps can attract and kill some clothes moths. Purchase them at the hardware store, set them up in your closets and check regularly to see if you have a problem.
Tip: These prevention tips above also prevent damage from carpet beetles, which are often more of a pest in Oregon than clothes moths.
Avoid chemical repellants like mothballs, flakes or crystals, especially those containing naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene (PDB), as they are toxic and dangerous.
While cedar and herbal sachets can contain natural chemicals lethal to moths, they are usually unreliable methods. Cedar chests help prevent moths mainly because of their tight-fitting lids.