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Facts you may already know about moth

Chemical control of moth

FAQ

Some facts about moths that you may already know…

FACT 1: Adult moths (the flying ones) do not eat anything at all, the females lay eggs after mating and it is the larvae that hatch from these eggs that do all the eating!  Moth larvae are beige/cream coloured and they look like tiny maggots (case bearing clothes moth) or dark brown and hairy like a caterpillar (comon clothes moth).

moth in carpet

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Common Clothes Moth - Tineola  bisselleilla

 

Case Bearing Clothes Moth – Tinea Pellionella

These are the moth doing the damage to our carpets and clothes.

FACT 2: “Clothes” and “Carpet” moths are the same thing.  These “textile moth” feed on anything that contains natural fibres – including: wool, hair, fur and feathers – favouring the softest and most natural fibres such as cashmere and merino.

Insecticide

using insecticide is the most common way of controlling these moth, this involves using chemical compounds of various kinds and with different delivery systems, for example: an aerosol spray to kill the flying moths, an insect powder to kill the larvae – both contain the same type of insecticide but are delivered in different ways: one with fine liquid particles and the other on dust particles.

A professional pest controller has access to some more potent and longer lasting versions of these chemical pesticides as well as a few more that are not available to the general public, but the active ingredient, or toxic element is virtually the same.

Treatment of a house or flat using these insecticides relies on the insect, at whichever stage in its life cycle, coming into contact with the toxic element of the compound in a high enough concentration to kill it.  So for a chemical treatment to be most effective the insecticide needs to be sprayed, pumped or blown in and on as much of the property as is practically possible.  If the treatment coincides with a fitted carpet being replaced then access is made possible to the floorboards and under the floor – this will make a treatment more successful, not only because insecticide can be deployed under the floorboards, but it also gives a chance to get rid of all the eggs and moth debris that will be under the carpet.  However, excellent levels of control are still achievable with insecticide without removing a fitted carpet.

 

What’s involved in a Chemical treatment for moth?

  1. First is the most underrated tool in every household when it comes to the control of moth: The vacuum cleaner.
  2. Spraying the carpet or floorboards with a residual insecticide in the case of the removed fitted carpets
  3. Using the insecticide dust where possible
  4. Using a state-of-the-art device to create a very fine aerosol of insecticide (like a fumigation) in all the effected areas of the property
  5. Setting up of moth monitoring traps in every area of the property.

This would be the first part of a moth treatment program using insecticides.  A few weeks of monitoring (checking numbers of moth in the traps) would follow and then further spot treatments in areas where high numbers are still being recorded.  These further treatments would involve some of the elements of the first visit but would be less costly than the first treatment as there should be no need for vacuuming, and they should only be required in specific areas of a property rather than throughout.

eggs and debris

Moth eggs and debris under a recently removed stair carpet

 

Pros and cons of Chemical control

Advantages:

  • Immediate reduction in the numbers of moth and larvae
  • Toxic environment created that will continue to kill moth and larvae that emerge after the initial treatment or have managed to survive it.

Disadvantages:

  • Introduction of a potentially hazardous substances into human environment
  • Efficacy of treatment depends on delivering the insecticide to all areas of a property – which is not always practical (roof voids, under floors and stairs etc )
  • Not considered a safe treatment for clothing so is not a complete solution for moth in wardrobes (although can be part of a treatment).

 

FAQ:

1. Where did the moth come from? The kinds of moths whose larvae feed on textiles (clothes, carpet, fur, hair, feathers) most commonly get into properties through hitchiking on clothes and furniture or rugs that might have been brought in.  They will also travel short distances between properties, especially across the hall or up the stairs in properties that share common hallways and stair wells.  It is also believed that they will find their way through the structure of properties, so under floors, or through lofts and eaves from an infestation in the neighbouring building.  These moths love the dark and unlike larger moth species are not attracted the light, these are not the ones coming through the windows at night and bashing into the light bulbs!

2. We don’t have fitted carpets but still moth, why?  We often find that in a property that has a history of moth infestation in the carpet, even after this main source of food has been removed the moth are still evident.  The reason is that whilst the moth are often mainly feeding on the carpet where their larvae and eggs are visible, they will also be under the floors and skirting living on any detritus that may contain keratin. this could be human or pet hairs, dust (much of which is our skin particles), rodent carcasses, insect carcasses even discarded fabric may be under the floors.

3. Will replacing our wool carpet with synthetic solve a moth problem? Synthetic carpets are completely man made and so have no natural keratin containing fibres in them and are therefore immune to moth.  However, if the previously moth infested rooms are not treated, the moth eggs and even larvae will still be present and may find their way to other sources of food such as clothes.

4. Do we need to vacate the house after an insecticide treatment? The insecticides are dangerous whisst they are being applied, but once dry are deemed safe by the highest standards.  The sprays that are applied to the floorboards or carpets are in a water based formulation so usually within an hour of the trreatment rooms are safe for people and pets.  The fumigation type treatment requires rooms to be left vacant for at least 1 hour after the treatment.

5. Is it safe for children and pets? Yes, all of the products are rigourously tested and have clear instructions as to how and where they can be used.  no bedding, clothes or childrens’ toys will ever be directly sprayed with inseciticide.

6. Can I do it myself? There are myriad procts available form hardware stores and online that are for moth control, and most of them do have a place in the overall strategy for getting rid of an infestation, unfortunately they often give an exaggerated impression of how effective they will be and how easily control will be established.  The reality is that most of what you can buy as a non-professional is based on what the professional will use (although isecticides are lower strength), but without sufficient instruction on how to use it.  Added to this is the fact that most people really only attempt to do something about the moth problem when it has already got quite bad, which of course makes it even harder.

 

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