If you had a copy of The Encyclopedia of Men's Clothes
on CD-Rom you could instantly access the section on Moths in the Clothes Care chapter, where you would find:
There's nothing worse than pulling your favorite wool sweater out of the closet to discover that it has been ravaged by hungry moths.
The large moths you see flying in large numbers around lights are not clothing moths at all. The larvae of those moths eat outdoor vegetation and not household fabrics.
Clothing moths are quite small, not more than one-half inch long, and when disturbed will run or fly to conceal themselves. They prefer dark, hidden places like the creases and folds in clothes hanging in rarely disturbed closets.
The moth goes through four life stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The adult moths live two to four weeks. In heated houses the females may lay eggs at any time of the year. Each female moth can lay up to 100 eggs, which hatch in about ten days, producing hungry little grubs who can hang around for months dining on your fine wool.
The feeding larva causes the clothing damage. The adult moths do not even have the mouthparts necessary to chew on clothes.
Larvae are able to digest only animal fibers, and will munch on anything containing wool, furs, or feathers. Silk, cotton, rayon, and synthetics can still be damaged by the larvae as they cut through the fibers to get to the dirt and stains on the fabric or to gain access to nearby dirty wool.
The best way to avoid problems with clothes moths is through prevention.
Woolens and other susceptible fabrics should be dry cleaned or laundered before being stored for long periods. Never store dirty clothes. Dry cleaning or hand washing kills any eggs or larvae that may be present and also removes perspiration odors and stains that are attractive to the pests. If shrinkage is not a problem, running clothes through the heat of the dryer kills moths too.
Periodically shake, brush, and expose clothes to sunlight.
If you don't wear your clothes at regular intervals, just shake them out and expose them to the sun. The handling involved in wearing a sweater, for example, is enough to knock off the fragile larvae and cocoons.
Vacuum often. Clean closets and behind baseboards and cracks in floors.
Storing clothes in airtight containers such as cedar chests or in bags that have been sealed with tape is effective at keeping moth larvae out. However, if clothes were packed with even one egg, larva, or moth hidden under a collar or cuff, the moth larvae will eventually have a feast. This is why it is so important to clean your clothes before you store them.
Articles to be stored can be packed in tight-fitting containers with mothballs or flakes containing Paradichlorobenzene (PDB) or Napthalene. Neither PDB or Napthalene will repel clothes moths or prevent them from laying eggs -- the vapors from these materials are lethal to clothes moths, but only when maintained at sufficient concentrations. In order to achieve these levels, the vapors must be tightly confined with the items you wish to protect. Naphthalene is not very soluble in water, so it is difficult to remove by washing. It would probably be wise to dry-clean any articles that have been stored with mothballs before using them.
Cedar history: In the third millennium B.C., the Indus civilization (located in modern Pakistan) used cedar to create lavish temples and royal palaces. Alexander the Great built great naval fleets from this long-lasting wood. In America, Indian tribes used red cedar to build totem poles, believing it held spiritual powers. In the 18th century, European furniture makers began using American aromatic cedar in travel trunks and bridal hope chests to protect keepsakes and fine woolens.
For a moth trap, mix 1 part molasses with 2 parts vinegar and place in a yellow container to attract moths. Clean regularly.
You can also try some herbal sachets: natural items such as cloves, lavender, rosemary, thyme, dried orange peel, peppercorns, cayenne pepper, eucalyptus leaves, hellebore, etc. To avoid staining, always wrap any of these items in a sachet or, simply tie up in a handkerchief.
Many of these herbs loose their scent quickly and may not repel clothing moths in the first place. This is not to say that clothes should not be stored with herbal sachets. They do add a nice scent. Just don't count on them alone to repel moths.
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