What Are Australian Carpet Moths and How To Get Rid of Them
Carpets make your living space great, but having to deal with carpet moths can be quite a hassle. Not to be confused with carpet beetles, the carpet moth can infest and attack your favourite rug or curtain by laying eggs and ultimately destroying it. So, how does one get rid of these moths?
The good news is it’s preventable by detecting them at the early stage before more damage can be done. Unfortunately, this can be quite challenging so we will cover some tips and tricks you can utilise as preventative maintenance.
If you’re wondering how to deal with it, this guide will help you. Read below as we provide an essential guide to prevent carpet moths and other crucial aspects related to them.
Carpet moths are a widespread moth found across the globe. They are scientifically known as "Trichophaga Tapetzella", and they belong to the Tineidae family, which has over 300 species of moths. They are also known as the tapestry or clothes moth as it feeds on the fabrics of tapestries. It's usually found outdoors, mainly in a bird's nest.
They predominantly feed on discarded animal skin, fur, and birds' feathers due to the presence of keratin. So, it's not surprising to see carpet moth larvae feeding your expensive wool rug or leather furnish. You will see them most during summer and stay inactive in winter.
When it comes to their features, some may think they are large-sized, given the damage they do. However, adult carpet moths are tiny but quite effective. They rarely fly and tend to hop instead. So, spotting them makes it more challenging because of this behaviour.
It can lay up to 300 eggs at once. They are small and difficult to spot. Imagine a single carpet moth laying over 200 to 300 eggs simultaneously. The next stage is turning it into larvae. Precisely the damage part starts here.
Adult moths don’t damage your rugs, but the main culprit is larvae. They are tiny and feed on fabrics of your tapestries or wool rug. After it is full, its body is covered with a woven case looking like a cocoon. A grain of rice, to be precise. Interestingly, it’s also visible in this stage.
So, where do carpet moths come from? Since it's mostly found indoors, some may think it comes from the house within. However, it is pretty happy living outside, feeding on birds' feathers. It only gets inside your home when it's time to lay eggs.
These eggs are primarily seen in your pet's toes, shoes, or clothing. It will stay there unless you clean it. Once it turns larvae, it will feed on your rug. It will gradually become an adult moth and then lay eggs. The breeding cycle continues. So, it's essential to do regular cleaning of your house to prevent the growth of carpet moths.
Carpet moths are harmless to pets and humans. However, these pests are a threat to your curtains, carpets, rugs, and more.
It's attracted to natural fibres like wool and cotton as it chews on these fibres to get the keratin and sugars, so the choice of carpets in your premises will have an impact on this.
After the moth eggs turn into larvae, the main threat starts here. It will look for secluded areas of your space, like behind the door, under the furniture, or edges of carpets. It prefers dark and quiet areas making it harder for humans to detect.
The only way to notice is by seeing the corners of your carpet thinning or fraying. So, if you see these signs, it means there is a moth infestation. You can also use moth traps to assess the severity.
carpet moths eating carpet
This kind of trap has a female moth pheromone that will help in attracting male carpet moths. It affects the breeding cycle but doesn’t get rid of it entirely. However, it will help you understand the situation or level of severity. If there are many male moths, expect their female counterparts to lay eggs.
Once you understand the gravity of the problem, carry out the elimination process. As the saying goes, “prevention is better than cure"; the first stage in getting rid is prevention.
If you’re planning to go DIY to restore your carpet, there are some steps you need to follow prior to it. The first thing you need to do is identify whether you do or don't have carpet moths. Before you start the restoration process, it's necessary to distinguish these moths with the other different variants.
Its distinct behaviour and marking make it easy to distinguish from the rest. Another common sign of the presence of carpet moth in your living space is its cocoon. If you see a cream-colored larvae with a dark head on your carpet, that is a sign of breeding.
Also, watch out for strange patches at the corners and edges of your carpets that look like some carpet is missing, it’s an indication of infestation by carpet moths.
carpet moth larvae
Once you see the signs of these moths you need to move to eradicate them. You can wash or vacuum the carpet yourself to try and destroy them, but getting a professional carpet cleaning service with extensive expertise for this would be more advisable. The life cycle of carpet moths will vary depending on the climatic conditions. However, its reproduction process is quick. Also, getting help from professionals is recommended if the infestation is massive and you may even need a pest control service.
Regularly vacuuming the house removes eggs which, left unnoticed, will turn into larvae. Also, the cleaning process gets rid of hair, fur, and skin, which is food for these moths.
The next stage is reducing the breeding cycle. Setting carpet moth traps will lead to a decline in the male moth population, lowering the reproduction cycle.
If the case is severe, you can call a pest control service to remove the infestation. The technician will use a safe and human-friendly solution to eliminate these moths or put a halt to their breeding cycle.
In some cases, the gravity of infestation might be massive, so one needs to get a strong chemical solution. These kinds are available in general stores which are pretty effective. Here is what you need to do if you’re using a strong solution:
• Before you start with the cleaning process, remove pets and children from the room. Let the kids and pets enter the room once the solution completely dissipates from the room. Also, don't prepare or keep near the treatment area.
• Use a mask and gloves, which usually comes with a carpet moth killer kit. These types of solutions contain properties that might be harmful to your health. Inhaling or consuming them by mistake may pose potential health risks. Hence, it’s crucial to take these preventive measures.
• Once you’re done with the treatment, wash the exposed skin and hands thoroughly. Once done with the elimination process, you can start with the restoration process, which we have already mentioned above. You can do DIY or get help from a professional carpet cleaner. Also, you don't have to get a new carpet unless it's severely damaged. Even the old ones can restore if it's done correctly.
1. Identifying The Carpet Moth
Moths are found in different variants. One such is carpet moths, which are also commonly known as tapestry moths. Scientifically, it’s called Trichophaga tapetzella, and its larvae feed on bird nests, animal skin, pellets, clothing, and fur.
These are tiny insects known for causing massive damage to clothes, carpets, and other household fabrics. While the adult carpet moths don't damage the materials, their larvae are the main culprit. Due to its appetite for organic fibres, the damage can be pretty extensive.
While cleaning your living space, look for these larvae, which are usually ½ to ¼ inch long. It has a darker head and is cream-colored. The larvae primarily reside under carpets, sofas, and other similar places. So, identifying them early on will prevent your carpet from getting damaged.
2. Inspecting Potential Area For Infestation
After the identification process, access the infested area or inspect spaces where it’s likely to cause damage. Unlike other moths, carpet moths generally prefer undisturbed and dark places. It would be under the sofas, behind the curtains, and in corners.
The best way to detect this insect is by using carpet moth traps. You can get it online or from your local general store. This trap has a female pheromone that helps in attracting adult male moths. Getting rid of the counterparts prevents the breeding cycle and thus leads to the decline of carpet moths.
After assessing the area, place the moth traps where it's likely to be located. Find its hot spots and place them accordingly. Before it starts damaging your fabrics, setting these traps will stop it from happening.
3. Cleaning Area Prone To Carpet Moths
Keeping your living space clean is one of the essential measures to prevent carpet moths from damaging your rugs. Dust is the main attractor of these insects due to the high presence of skin cells, pet, and human hairs. All these are shed daily, which we're unaware of, and keratin too.
Hence, it’s necessary to regularly clear your living space, especially ‘hotspots.' It includes under the sofas, behind doors, and other similar places. You should also air or shake your rugs once or twice a week to prevent infestation.
Maintaining a regular carpet care schedule keeps your carpet and clothes safe from moth infestation. You can also get a moth killer kit if it’s damaging your rug. If you’re vacuuming, take the vacuum cleaner outside to empty to avoid leaving larvae or egg moths inside.
4. Prevent Carpet Moths From Breeding
Do you know carpet moths can survive on your home textiles for up to three years? Depending on the weather conditions, its life expectancy can vary. Either way, it increases breeding which should be prevented by taking necessary measures.
One of the ways to stop moths from breeding is by using carpet moth traps. Its effective and proper use will stop its population from growing. Using these traps will prevent the moths from laying eggs which will gradually turn into larvae, and so forth-the cycle continues.
Hence, keeping carpet moths from breeding is vital to avoid damaging your home textiles. Watch its 'hotspots' regularly while cleaning the house and take measures accordingly.
5. Removing Eggs and Larvae Of Carpet Moths
Your most expensive home textiles like cashmere throws, leather sofas, or wool carpets might be at greater risk. Do you know why? Carpet moth larvae feed on keratin which is like a protein for them. It doesn’t feed on synthetic fabrics or cotton unless there are traces of sweat or food in it.
Carpet moth eggs may not be easy to spot, but the larvae are easily visible. Another great way to find it is through its sticky webbing in rugs or carpets. That will be an excellent indicator.
While cleaning the house, take this indicator into measure and get rid of it accordingly. After removing the eggs and larvae, use a combination of powder and spray as protection against carpet moths which will likely last for two weeks.
6. Be Consistent With The Cleaning Regime
The only way to stop carpet moths is by regularly cleaning your living space, especially its hotspots. Food stains, pet and human hair, sweat, and dust attract carpet moths.
Hence, it is necessary to clean daily to prevent these moths from residing and breeding. Once it starts breeding, the population will increase, and it will be hard to get rid of it. In addition, it will cause massive damage to your home textiles and furniture.
7. Monitoring Carpet Moths
Don’t think your task is complete after cleaning or keeping carpet moth traps. You should constantly watch out as it may start infesting somewhere else. So, it's vital to check places besides their regular spots.
It's time to restore once your carpet or rug is free from carpet moths. Fortunately, there are home remedies to make your rug fresh and new.
Here are some of the ways to restore your carpet:
If you have a vacuum, then you can use this device to maintain your carpets. It’s highly effective in getting rid of organic residuals and debris.
Before you start vacuuming, make sure that the device is not full or clogged.
After ensuring everything, start vacuuming your rugs, crevices, furs, and carpets. It will remove the residuals of cocoons, larvae, and eggs. Make sure to clean under beds, rugs, cupboards, and furniture. Once you’re done vacuuming, remove the residuals outside instead of indoors. High-powered vacuums are pretty effective in getting rid of debris.
While vacuuming eliminates larvae and eggs, it doesn't remove stains. If there is no damage, then it's okay. However, if there are patches of tints, you can try home remedies. More on it is discussed below.
• Using A Light Mixture Of Vinegar And Baking Soda
While vacuuming eradicates cocoons, eggs, and larvae residuals, it will not remove the spots and stains. There are formulas available in the market to get rid of it, but you can follow the DIY route. Moreover, if you’re on a budget, home remedies will be of great help.
One such is the combination of baking soda and vinegar. These ingredients are readily available in your kitchen pantry and are not costly. It will remove the moths and make your carpet clean and stainless.
Another interesting fact is that both baking soda and vinegar contain natural antibacterial properties. Hence, it helps in the elimination of moths and also prevents odour. Here is how to use these elements:
• Using Damp Cloth And Ironing To Restore The Carpet
This can be another effective method to make your carpet fluffy and fresh. Regardless of the moth infestation, this DIY will help restore it. However, for this method, you need to have a vacuum.
It removes all the residuals, allowing you to follow this method without hassle. Check the steps below:
• Getting Help From The Professionals
Getting professional help is also a good alternative if you're not in DIYs. It may cost you, but if you can spare, then go for it. There are various local services that will help in restoring your carpets and prevent infestation such as carpet cleaning or pest control which may help your situation.
If there is no budget constraint, seeking professional help is excellent. The team will tell you the dos and don'ts and guide you on its maintenance. Look for local companies that are experienced and have good customer service.
Home treatments are excellent and cost-effective, but the if the damage is extensive, it’s better to seek help from professionals. If it's minor, you can switch to DIYs, which is excellent and effective. Eventually, it's up to the individuals to choose one. Understand the gravity of the damage and then follow it accordingly.
After getting rid of the moths, ensure you monitor them daily, as it's likely to come back if you're not careful. It might resurge; hence, vacuuming regularly or keeping moth traps is necessary.
Know that it’s difficult to get rid of these pests once they have gotten out of control. Hence, it's vital to maintain a cleaning schedule for your house. Following this routine can reduce food for these moths, which are mainly our hair, furs, and skin.
All in all, keep your living space clean to prevent the attraction of any kind of pests. Besides, being hygienic allows you to have a healthy lifestyle. So, it’s necessary to have a good cleaning schedule.
Sometimes, carpet moths can’t be eliminated entirely, but they can be preventable. By following the steps mentioned above, you can reduce the growth of these pests and cause less damage to your carpet, furniture, or other textile materials.
Even if you eliminate the moth infestation, it may resurge if not monitored regularly. Hence, it's essential to periodically vacuum, especially under the sofas, behind the cupboards, or on the edge of curtains.