INSECT PESTS... Spring Cleaning May Be Too Late

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They Attack Clothes and Much More

Everyone has seen items of clothing that have been damaged by insects. Usually found in dark closets or out-of-the-way storage areas such as attics, clothing that has been left undisturbed—and improperly stored—for a period of time is susceptible to attack.

But, did you know that floor coverings and furnishings are also subject to similar damage?

In this article, we’ll take a look at the common insect culprits and the best methods for preventing infestations.

Clothes Moths

The most commonly encountered “textile eaters” are clothes moths. Two different types are commonly found: the webbing clothes moth and the case-making clothes moth. Both moths are small (about ½ inch) and buff-colored, with narrow wings fringed with hairs.

Adult clothes moths do not feed so they cause no injury to fabrics. However, the female moths lay eggs, which hatch into fabric-eating larvae. Both species feed on wool and other animal-based materials such as carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, furs, animal bristles in brushes and even wool felts in pianos. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool. Larvae may use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases.

Larvae, creamy white and up to ½ inch long, prefer to feed in the dark. Damage generally appears in hidden, undisturbed locations such as in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in areas of carpeting covered by furniture. Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration, or urine are more subject to damage.

The case-making cloths moth encloses itself in a portable case that it drags around wherever it goes. The webbing clothes moth is recognized by silken feeding tubes or patches of webbing on the surface of fabrics. The larval stages of both types of moth can last from 6 weeks to 2 ½ years, depending on environmental conditions.

Carpet Beetles

Although there are many different species of carpet beetles, the adults of all species are tiny, oval-shaped beetles about 1/8 inch long. Color ranges from black to patterns of white, brown, yellow and orange.

Just as with moths, it is the larval stage of the beetle that causes damage. Larvae are about 1/8 to 1/4 inch long and densely covered with hair or bristles. It is this feature that gives them their common name, “woolly bears.” Carpet beetle larvae require 9 months to 3 years to complete their growth and enter pupation.

Varied carpet beetle larvae (top) and black carpet beetle larvae

In addition to wool and animal products, carpet beetle larvae will feed on seeds, pet food or cereal products in the kitchen or pantry.

Prevention Starts with Housekeeping

Good housekeeping is as important in preventing carpet beetle and clothes moth infestations as it is in control. Your vacuum cleaner is often your best pest management tool. Periodically clean areas of a home that may harbor clothes moths to prevent or control infestation. Those areas include many seldom-cleaned spots, such as:

  • under heavy pieces of furniture
  • along baseboards and in cracks where hair and debris accumulate
  • closets, especially those in which woolens and furs are kept
  • heaters, the areas behind them, and vents

The vacuum cleaner is the best tool for most of this cleaning. After using it in infested areas, dispose of the bag contents promptly; they may include insects, eggs or larvae.

What about Moth Repellents?

The two most common moth repellents are paradichloro-benzene (PDB) and naphthalene. Both of these products are very odorous and are only for use in tightly wrapped textiles in storage.

Questions are often raised as to the effectiveness of cedar chests and closet floors made of cedar. Aromatic eastern red cedar contains an oil that is able to kill small larvae, but it does not affect large larvae. After several years, however, cedar loses this quality. Having the chest tightly constructed is more important in the long run than the type of wood used to make it.

Let Us Help!

The professionals of the Fiber-Seal Fabric Care System are trained to deal with all types of stains and soils, even the most difficult. With the latest in carpet and fabric protection technology and the most effective spot removal products and procedures, your local Fiber-Seal Service Center is ready and willing to help.

Need Help With Fabric Cleaning Or Fabric Protection?

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