Wondering how to get rid of moths you’ve found in your wardrobe, kitchen or carpets? Here’s how to tell if you have a moth problem and how to fix it.

What are the signs of a moth problem?

Unlike many other pests we’ve covered in this series, moths don’t bite or sting. But finding a moth infestation in your home is nothing short of frustrating. Generally speaking, you will come into contact with one of two moth types – clothes moths and pantry moths. These moths go after different food sources in your house – in this case, your wardrobe and kitchen.

The clothes moth is inclined to enjoy munching its way through your closet/wardrobe. Even worse, the caterpillars have expensive taste and tend to gravitate towards quality fabrics like wool, silk, linen and fur. You’ll know you have a clothes moth problem when you start finding holes in your clothing that weren’t there when you hung them up. Clothes moths also have a habit of leaving behind a mess of their pupae skins, webbing and excrement. No much fun.

Meanwhile, the pantry moth has less taste for fine fashion and will go after your tasty snacks, usually in the form of grains and dry goods in your kitchen. You might have a pantry moth problem if you find webbing or tiny caterpillars in things such as cereals, crackers, rice and other stored foods. Thanks for nothing, pantry moths.

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How to stop a moth infestation in its tracks

Before you run to Bunnings and panic buy a lifetime supply of mothballs, it’s important to start cleaning and remove any infested materials. If you have a pantry moth issue, get out your rubbish bags and throw out any potentially contaminated food. The best thing to do is to get it out of the house.

Found a clothes moth problem? Start building your laundry pile. Wash your affected items with hot water and detergent. If you have a dryer, dry the items on low heat to kill off any larvae – but this is not recommended for any delicate or highly-prized clothing pieces. Dry cleaning can also help to debug your garments.

Next step – whether you’re in the kitchen or the wardrobe, vacuum EVERYTHING. We’re talking the carpet, the walls, the sliding door tracks. Throw out or empty your vacuum bag right away to avoid leaving any residual eggs. Give your shelves and walls a thorough scrub once you’re done.

It’s also a good idea to check for other items that could be affected nearby, as well as possible sources of the infestation. Check to see if the carpets or curtains nearby have also been affected. If one item is infested, the problem can spread further.

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How to prevent a moth infestation in the future

There are simple ways to deter moths from invading your home. There are many repellants and deterrents available (mothballs and cedar, for example) on the market, but it can be difficult to ensure their effectiveness if they only target one species of moth.

For clothing, consider storing your seasonal garments in airtight bags (we’re talking the vacuum-sealed kind). You can also look at a natural repellant cedar, but don’t rely on it as a lasting remedy. Cedarwood oil can help to prevent investigations by causing some harm to small larvae, but it won’t clean up any existing clothes moths.

In your pantry, keep your food in airtight containers. When you purchase dry goods at the shops, check the food (if possible) before you leave and bring it inside. Airtight containers also help to deter moisture-loving mould, as well as other unwanted pests like ants and cockroaches.

You can help prevent future pest problems by cleaning your house regularly. Wipe down surfaces and remove crumbs, fibres and dust. Moth activity isn’t just reserved for your kitchen and wardrobe, so keep an eye out for signs of moths elsewhere.

Is the landlord or tenant responsible for a moth infestation?

If you have a problem with pantry moths, chances are that the source of the infestation lies with something edible in your house (flour, grains, nuts, etc) and this would be something a tenant has brought into the property. In this instance, the tenant would be responsible for fixing the issue.

But, as with most pest issues in Australia, the responsibility for pest control varies state-by-state. In most cases, if the tenant’s activities have resulted in the infestation, they are held responsible. If in doubt, check with your state/territory tenancy body specific to your situation. The lease agreement may also nominate who is responsible.

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