How to Get Rid of Moths

Moths can cause a lot of damage to a home. They can also damage clothing, get into your food supply, and cause general havoc within the home. Knowing how to get rid of moths means doing more than just placing a few mothballs around the home. This guide will help you to get the job done.

Moth Facts

Moths on the inside of a home are a bad thing because of the destruction they can cause. Moths in the outdoors, however, should usually be left alone. There are more than 11,000 different species of moths that are just in the United States and then can be as small as the tip of a pencil or be up to 4.5 inches in size, rivaling butterflies. They are pests when they are in the caterpillar stage because they’ll eat through a garden in just days, but when they’re a moth, they actually make great pollinators.

The species of moth that you have should also dictate your response. Although some moths damage clothing, carpets, and even walls, there are other moths that don’t even have a mouth. The Luna moth, which is a bright green color and one of the largest moth species, can’t eat and only lives outside of its cocoon for about 7-10 days. It mates, lays eggs, and dies.

Did you know that moths are also a major source of food… for humans? In Africa, 90% of people will eat caterpillars on a regular basis. If you can stomach the idea of eating 100 grams of caterpillars every day, then you’ll get all of your daily requirements for 4 essential vital minerals: potassium, calcium, zinc, and iron.

That’s right: eating a banana caterpillar is healthier than eating a banana.

Signs of Moths

If you’re wondering if there are moths around, here’s what you do: wait for night to come and then turn on a light. Moths are attracted to the light and the heat of the light, so they’ll flutter about it until they either wear out or you turn it off.

Sometimes the holes that are in clothing are the first sign of the presence of moths. Moths love to eat wool and cashmere especially, but they’ll chew through leather if its present as well. It isn’t the adult moths that will eat the clothing. It’s their larvae that cause the problem. You can find them in closets, in drawers, or even in your laundry basket. Moths don’t really care.

The same holes that are seen in clothing can also be seen in carpets and rugs if larvae are present. Soft pile carpets are particularly vulnerable to moth damage since it is more difficult to detect the presence of larvae. Some moths won’t leave holes, but they will leave webs, kind of like a spider. This is especially true in the kitchen. If foods smell a little musty or off, then there’s good chance there is a moth infestation present.

What puts a home at risk of having a moth infestation? Believe it or not, it’s your central heating system. The moths get up into the vents because it stays the right temperature all year long. This extends their lifecycles and makes it particularly difficult to remove the larvae from the eating stage when they cause so much damage.

How To Kill Moths

One of the easiest ways to kill moths is to use their strong pheromone senses against them. Moths can detect one another from up to 7 miles away. If you have a moth trap that is doused in pheromones, then any moths in the home are going to be attracted to it. These traps have a glue in them that causes the moth to get stuck. Because they can’t escape, the trap will eventually kill the moth. If you can’t find moth traps in your area, you can make your own by hanging up a flypaper and dabbing it with some fish oil. 

If you’ve ever had a mouse infestation, then you may have noticed an interesting fact: a mouse trap also makes for an effective moth trap. The zapper traps are the best option because the infrared sensors within the trap will sense the moth coming after the bait and zap it. If you prefer a more traditional option, indoor and outdoor bug zappers are also effective at getting smaller moths as they fly on by, but it won’t do anything for the caterpillars and larvae.

Removing food sources from the moth infestation is also an effective way to control it. If the scent of the standard mothball isn’t something you want all over your home, then consider using cedar. Cedar chips in bags that hang in high-risk locations, like your closets and drawers, along with cedar hangers can drive moths out of the home in record time. Make sure to cover the cedar with something before using it because there are resins in the wood that can stain your clothes.

Because of the life cycle of the moth, the best strategy is to usually remove the eggs of the moth instead of targeting the moths themselves. If you have moths, then there are moth eggs. Break out your vacuum and clean every carpet or upholstered surface. You may even want to take a brush to the fabrics to remove any stuck-on moth eggs.

It isn’t uncommon for grains that you bring home from the grocery store to have a few moth eggs in them. Don’t leave any oatmeal, cornmeal, or flour open at all. This allows the larvae to escape and cause a full infestation.

Unlike other pests, moths are attracted to almost all foods, not repelled by them. Citrus, mint, and even bay leaves are all said to work on killing moths, but this isn’t true. The moths will actually eat these items and you’ll create a larger problem instead. The only food products that are effective against moths are cinnamon and cloves. Use it sparingly, however, especially if the moths are in your clothing because cinnamon and cloves are odors that can be difficult to remove. On a bright note, you’ll always smell like Christmas.

DIY Moth Control

Moth control has two approaches for the DIY specialists: repelling them or removing them. A combination of these two approaches is usually the best way to rid a home of a moth infestation. Here are the best products that can help to make that happen.

Catchmaster Traps

These traps are specifically designed to go into your pantry to take care of those grain eating moths that are so bothersome. This trap is a pheromone trap that is specifically designed for the flour and meal moths that love the foods that are available to them in the pantry. It won’t work on those closet moths that are eating your cashmere sweaters. Each trap will work in the kitchen for up to 3 months and their effectiveness is guaranteed.

CedarFresh Value Pack

With over 70 different pieces of cedar that can be used throughout the home, repelling moths has never been easier or more affordable. These red cedar pieces have been harvested from renewable forests and can be lightly sanded to provide a cedar scent for the home, although the scent isn’t actually necessary to repel the moths. Easily the best part of this kit are the cedar rings that are designed to fit over your current hangers so you don’t have to invest in a brand new closet. Cedar is proven to repel moths and this value purchase is the best you’re going to find outside of cutting down your own cedar tree.

Moth Away Sachets

If cedar isn’t a smell you enjoy, then perhaps a blend of rosemary, thyme, and peppermint is more your preference. These sachets do hold one advantage over cedar repellents – there isn’t the risk of staining clothing in drawers. Just toss these sachets into a confined environment like a clothing drawer and they’re going to get to work. Open air storage doesn’t work very well with this product and it isn’t going to work on grain moths. It will, however, keep your clothing in drawers very moth free.

Cost of Moth Control

Outside of the costs of constantly replenishing your wardrobe because it is being eaten, controlling moths professionally can become quite expensive. Not only are there no guarantees, you’ll still have to thoroughly clean all of your surfaces and launder all of your undamaged clothes in hot water after paying between $25-$40 for a moth treatment. When there isn’t any other option or if there’s a large infestation, then this cost may make sense.

For the average homeowner, however, traps and DIY repellents are going to be an effective way to control the moth population. Knowing how to get rid of moths often means using some of the same methods the exterminator is going to use anyway. Professional services often use pesticides as well, which may not be suitable for every home.

Preventing Moths and Moth Repellent

Preventing moths from coming into a home can be difficult to do. Moth eggs can be in virtually any fibrous food item. If you purchase clothing from a thrift store, there might be moth eggs on that item. You won’t know the eggs are there until the larvae hatch and you’ve got a problem on your hands.

For pantry moths that are attracted to flour, grains, and sometimes even raisins, the best practice to have is to keep all items tightly closed. If you have moth eggs in a bag of cornmeal, then keeping the cornmeal closed will keep the moths in that one product and prevent them from spreading. You’ll know there are moths in there because there will be webbing within the container.

For clothing moths, it is a best practice to wash any new clothing coming into the home at the hottest temperature possible. Run that clothing through the dryer for at least an hour if possible. Use a dry cleaning service if there are difficult care options for the clothes. Do this with thrift store and department store purchases.

Having proven moth repellents sprinkled throughout the home will also limit an infestation. Cedar and lavender, in particular, are very effective items to use to keep moths at bay. Mix in some cinnamon or cloves in an emergency, but avoid putting those spices on your clothes.

Most importantly, moths and their larvae are attracted to dirt and debris. These are food sources, egg-laying locations, and just general places for moth fun. If you find moths, then do some Spring cleaning. It will help more than you might think.

Natural Moth Remedies

The most effective home remedies for moth control tend to be a combination of any natural materials that are placed in a sachet. You can make your own sachets out of cheesecloth if you wish, but an easier method may be to purchase a fabric envelope online. Muslin drawstring bags also work. From there, just use your preferred potpourri recipe using these moth repellents.

  • Cedar shavings.
  • Rosemary.
  • Lemongrass.
  • Lavender.
  • Thyme.
  • Pink peppercorns.

You can then add other scents if you wish, such as mint or citrus, that won’t bother the moths, but make the drawer or closet smell better. Using too much mint or citrus in your recipe may limit the sachet’s effectiveness, so tread lightly.

Something as simple as the addition of a cedar plank can stop moths in a closet. For severe problems, building a cedar shelf interior for the closet is an effective, though expensive solution.

Knowing how to get rid of moths has traditionally been taking a drive to the store to pick up some mothballs. If you want to avoid having chemicals in the home and don’t want to pay for professional services, then consider the options in this guide today. These repellents and traps will stop an infestation fast.