Why Moths are So Attracted to Clothes

March 20, 2020


A few things that moths are attracted to: food (especially grains), bright lights and...your clothing? If you’ve ever reached into your closet and had a moth (or two, or five) flutter out of your favorite sweater, this is no surprise. Even worse is when you take a look at that sweater and realize it’s full of holes, no doubt a result of the notorious sweater munching offenders. It’s at this point (after you mourn the loss of your sweater) that the question probably occurs to you, “Why are moths so attracted to my clothes?”. Here at A-1, we did a little digging, and we think we’ve discovered the reason--but the answer might surprise you. 

Why Moths Eat Clothes

Here’s what we came up with: it’s not actually moths that eat clothes--not full-grown ones anyway. The moths that come flapping out of your closet aren’t the actual criminals in the case of the chewed up sweater. So who is? As it turns out, it’s actually the larvae of the mother moth that are turning your favorite article of clothing into their own personal 4 course meal! A mother moth lays between fifty and one thousand eggs into cloth or clothing, and once those eggs hatch into moth larvae they begin eating up the fabric to sustain themselves. So the short of it is that moth larvae are actually the ones doing the dirty work. 

Why Moth Larvae Like Fabric

Moth larvae poking out of fabric

Moth larvae’s infatuation with fabric is well-founded: keratin-heavy animal fibers like silk, wool, cashmere, angora or fu are all part of a healthy diet for moth larvae. Naturally, mother moths are absolutely thrilled when they realize getting that much needed nutrition for their babies is as easy as infiltrating the right closet and setting up shop for a while. Keratin-based fabrics have what scientists call, “fibrous structural proteins” that are a vital part of a moth larvae’s diet, which is why they are such an appealing item for moth mothers to lay their eggs on. 

Getting Rid of Moths

Person cleaning to get rid of moths

So now that we know all about moths' attraction to particular fabrics, let’s address what you can do to get rid of them. According to healthline.com, there are a few measures that you can take to make sure your first lost sweater is your last: 

  • Spray your home with cedar oil. Moths retreat from the pheromones found in cedar, so a healthy spray of cedar oil diluted with water around the home will have moths running from your home in no time.  

  • Keep a clean home. Moth eggs and larvae thrive especially well in dust and dirt. Try to vacuum and dust regularly to both get rid of existing moth eggs/larvae and make sure any potential moth offspring don’t have a solid breeding ground.

  • Wash and dry clothes in high heat. High heat environments can kill moth eggs and moth larvae. If you discover a moth presence in your home through a ruined piece of clothing, give your clothes a good wash and a hot dry. If you have clothing that can’t be dried at high heats, take your wet clothes and throw them in the freezer for 24 hours. You might come off a little weird with a pile of clothes in your freezer, but trust us, it works. 

Now that you know all that you probably ever wanted to about moths' weird attraction to particular clothing, it’s time to think about other pests. Summer is just around the corner, and that means a host of inconsiderate wildlife and insect invaders are revving to turn your home, yard or business into their own personal stomping ground. 

This makes comprehensive and all-inclusive pest control all the more important and at A-1 Pest Control, we can deliver on just that. Our 3-tiered Home Shield pest solution offers year-round protection, and the summer is the perfect time to start! To learn more about the program, take a look at our home pest control page, and stop your pest problem before it has a chance to become a problem.  




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