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HOW CAN I TELL IF MOTHS ARE EATING MY CARPET?
Textile pests do not carry disease and do not bite humans, and therefore are not considered a risk to human health. However, they are a nuisance pest as they can cause severe damage to textile products such as wool, fur, leather, silk, and other natural fibres.
The damage is caused by the larval stage of the species as they feed off the keratin within the natural fibres in order to survive and grow into their adult form. If left untreated the damage they can cause to carpets and clothing can be significant; as the numbers increase the damage gets greater.
There are a number of species of moth and beetle that attack textiles. The most common ones are varied carpet beetles and clothes moths.
Varied carpet beetles are round and about the size of a ladybird (2 to 4mm long). They are mottled black, white and gold. Each female will lay up to 100 eggs in spring and early summer on furs, wool and natural fibres. These eggs hatch into hairy, brown larvae, commonly known as woolly bears. The woolly bears avoid light and curl into a ball when approached. It is the larvae that cause damage to natural fibres, as they feed and grow.
Clothes moths are 4 to 8mm long with a 10 to 15mm wingspan and long antennae. They are straw-coloured or mottled brown colour and their wings have fringed edges. As with carpet beetles, it is the larvae that do the damage. Common clothes moth larvae are creamy coloured and grow up to about 10mm long, they construct a shelter out of silk and fabric to rest in during the daytime; case-bearing clothes moth larvae construct a ‘sleeping bag’ out of silk and fibres that they remain in all the time, walking around with it. The larvae take up to 9 months to grow to maturity, so they only have one lifecycle a year.
SIGNS OF CARPET BEETLES AND CLOTHES MOTHS
The following are signs that you may have a carpet beetle infestation:
- Beetle sightings – you may see adult beetles or the larvae (woolly bears). Adults will sometimes be found in groups on windowsills as they are attracted to daylight
- Moth sightings – you may see adult moths flying or scuttling around in the evening, or you might see the larvae on their food material
- Bird nests – if you have bird nests in your loft this may be where the beetles are coming from
- Damaged carpets and clothes. With carpets, particularly look for damage in dark and undisturbed corners and underneath furniture
- Terminix uses pheromone monitors which lure male moths to a sticky trap
HOW TO PREVENT TEXTILE PESTS
By following these tips you may be able to prevent an infestation:
- Vacuum regularly (especially in areas under storage heaters or at the skirting junction)
- Remove old / unoccupied birds’ nests from eaves and loft spaces
- Remove dead birds or rodents when found in chimneys, under floors or in loft spaces
- Avoid storing goods with a natural fibre content (like old carpets and clothing) in lofts as they are potential food sources
- Maintain good hygiene