Every year, a group of pest control researchers analyze consumer data in order to determine the number of Americans seeking out products designed to control clothes moths within homes. Based on these numbers, the researchers compile a list of the metropolitan areas where clothes moths are most problematic, and the list for 2019 was just released. As usual, New York City, Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles topped the list, but for the first time ever, Houston appeared on the list as the 11th most clothes moth-infested city in the country. Dallas moved up four points to number seven, indicating that clothes moth pest issues are becoming more common throughout Texas.
Webbing clothes moths and casemaking clothes moths are the two primary clothes moth pests in the US, and both are common in Houston. A third clothes moth species, the carpet moth, can also be found in Houston, but they are uncommon. The webbing clothes moth is more common than the casemaking clothes moth, but both species demonstrate the same pest behaviors, and unlike most moths, clothes moths are not attracted to light. Clothes moth infestations start when adult female moths enter a home and lay eggs on materials that contain a fibrous animal protein called keratin. Hair, nails, animal fur, feathers, and the outer layer of vertebrae skin contain keratin. When eggs hatch, larvae begin chewing holes in clothing and other fabrics that are made from animal products, such as wool, silk, cashmere, felt, down comforters, furs, and even leather.
Clothes moths also damage synthetic fabrics that have absorbed perspiration, or fabrics that have collected flakes of skin, hair, lint, or any other bodily product. This is why clothes moths may damage carpeting, rugs, furniture upholstery, bedding, and dirty clothes. Clothes moth infestations are typically noticed when people find adult moths flying about in their home or when damaged clothing is found in dressers and storage chests. The presence of silken webs in dressers, closets, and storage containers also indicate a clothes moth’s presence, as larvae produce silk for cocoon construction. Since most infestations originate from stored clothing or furs, all susceptible fabric items should be dry cleaned before being put away in storage, as doing so will prevent clothes moth infestations.
Have you ever found damaged clothing in your home that you believe had been caused by clothes moths?