What Attracts Moths In The House?


When you see one moth flying all over your living room, it might be an indication of a whole collection of other moths hiding in other places that are probably out of reach. A lot of times, they will have gotten inside as larvae in a grocery bag or on someone’s clothes. Moths get nourishment and shelter from pantries, bags of food, and clothes, and this is why you can sometimes find them in closets.

This article will help you figure out what draws them to your house as well as how to get rid of them. However, you first need to have a little better understanding of the types of moths that can infest your house and their common behaviors in terms of diet and habitat. This will help you stop a moth problem before it starts, or nip it in the bud before it becomes severe.

About Moths

Moths are insects that are closely related to butterflies, except they are smaller and have a different wing appearance. Also, moths are nocturnal, unlike butterflies, which are active during the day. Moths are of two main types:

  • Clothes moths: When these get access to your clothes, they lay eggs, which hatch into larvae, which then leave holes in the fabric.
  • Pantry moths: These are sometimes referred to as the Indian Meal Moths, and feed on stored food that is not well-sealed, especially if it is dry. They are called pantry moths because they love to eat food stored in cupboards or pantries. They have brown, tan, and grey hues, and are mostly found indoors. Female pantry moths lay eggs in stored food on gaining access, and the larvae then feed on this food. 

Both of these types of moths cause a lot of damage to property in your house, and it can be a real nuisance.

Things that attract moths to houses

Despite being the same, these two species of moths both have different motives for accessing a house. Have a look at the following factors that draw moths into your home:

Clothes moths

Even though these moths have no negative effect on your health like other pests, they cause a lot of damage to clothes, carpets, and other fabrics. You will be surprised to learn that it is not the adult moths that chew into fabric, but rather the larvae. The damage caused is irreversible, causing loss of treasured property. These moths are attracted to clothes with stains, urine, and sweat, from which their larvae can obtain vitamins. They also need sodium, which they can get in sweat, fur, or hair.

Clothes moths like to stay in wardrobes and closets, with their larvae depending on natural fibers such as wool, silk, fur, and linen for survival. Clothes moths not only leave holes in clothes, but also shed pupae skins and webbing. They also leave excrement that resembles large sand grains.

Clothes moths do not like light, and are more prone to get into your house at night when it is dark.

Pantry moths

It is known that moths are immensely attracted to light, a common characteristic of pantry moths. The light will make them enter the house via open windows, doors, or any cracks or openings. But most importantly, they are attracted to pantry items like pasta, cereals, bread, grains, and flours, thanks to their sense of smell. They can catch the smell of these foods from a distance, and use it in their hunt for food. They follow the smell and gain entry to houses via windows, doors, and crevices. They tend to feel safest where there is food, unfortunately. Therefore, the best way to deal with these insects is to use airtight containers to store dry foods.

How to get rid of moths

Now that you have identified the common reasons why moths get into your home, the next thing you have to do if figure out how to get rid of them, preferably for good.

  • Clean all areas – Sweep the whole house and ensure woolen carpets are vacuumed thoroughly and vigorously. Pay attention to areas of the carpet that you regularly miss when you do normal cleaning, like along the skirting and behind or under furniture.
  • Regularly empty the vacuum – If you managed to collect larvae using the vacuum, you must empty the vacuum into a dustbin outside or far from the house, so that the moths problem does not re-occur. This also creates space in the vacuum for another cleaning session another day.
  • Clean infested and vulnerable fabric – Pay attention to fabrics that are more prone to damage from moths, such as those with soft material, like silk. Thoroughly clean clothes that have moths in them and dry them out properly. In the future, make sure your laundry is dry-cleaned properly before you can put it back inside the closet.
  • Throw out infested food – there is no reason to continue storing food that is infested with moth larvae and eggs, as this will only lead to further infestation. Throw out this food and clean the containers thoroughly to get rid of any traces.
  • Clean furniture thoroughly – A solution of soap, water, and vinegar will do the trick. Use this to clean all surfaces, not forgetting affected drawers and wardrobes. Don’t neglect crevices and cracks, because moths are likely to settle in places you choose to ignore. They know they can make a breeding ground there.
  • Clean everything up – Gather all old suitcases, bags, boxes, and containers you have not used for a while and wash them thoroughly. Moth larvae may be hiding out in these areas, and this is why it is important that you get rid of them, even to prevent re-infestation.
  • Iron clothes – Moth larvae and eggs cannot survive in high temperatures, and this is why you need to iron out infested clothes to kill them.
  • Set up traps – One good combination that should do the trick is that of flypaper and fish oil. This trap attracts them and kills them, so hang it anywhere in the house, especially in areas like the kitchen, pantry, or bedroom, where moths are more likely to reside.
  • Cedar – You need to switch the normal hangers in your house for the cedar ones, as the smell of cedar irritates clothes moths. They will find it repulsive, and will not get any near to your clothes.

Cedar oil is also very good for keeping moths away. Make a solution from the same, diluted with water, then put it in a spray bottle. Keep spraying it in areas of your house you have noticed moths. Cedar contains pheromones that repel not only moths, but also other household pests.

  • Scented substances – Get access to small bags and fill these with scented substances like rosemary, thyme, lavender, and bay leaves. You can also use essential oils, which serve you a double advantage of getting rid of moths as well as freshening up the house.

Fill small bags with scented ingredients: These can include thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and lavender. You can use essential oils too, a great room freshener alternative as well as a preventative measure.

  • Maintain good ventilation – Regularly air out the house
  • Discard infested items – There is no point in keeping severely damaged items such as clothes, no matter how much you value them. Get rid of these, as they might only lead to more problems

If worse comes to worst, and you are rendered unable to control the moth problem, then you will need to contact pest control services for help.

Final Thoughts

When you have a serious moth problem in your house, they will spoil stored food with their waste and leftover cocoons. This then gives other pests like fungi and mites a source of food and, consequently, becomes a source of germs. If humans come into contact with infested food and fabric, they will get an allergic reaction. This is also the same for pets like dogs and cats. Furthermore, when you consume infested food, you are at risk of contracting intestinal diseases.

Moth larvae are also dangerous and contact with them can even cause itchy skin, scaly skin, blisters, irritations like those of eczema, rashes, and swelling.

Moths do not bite humans, and most of them do not even have mouthparts. However, touching them could cause infections and allergies, due to the shedding of the scales on their wings.

Mothballs can help you get rid of moths. They work by eliminating them and preventing re-infection. All you have to do is place them in your closet or areas where you suspect moths may be hiding. However, keep in mind that mothballs can be toxic to humans and pets when inhaled. They can also leave a strong scent on clothes when used in closets. Also, some chemicals in mothballs can cause health effects like nausea, headaches, coughing, and irritation of the nose and the eyes to people. To avoid this, consider using more natural alternatives like essential oils and natural herbs like thyme and rosemary.

Melanie Asiba

Melanie is an author. She enjoys traveling, reading and trying out new things. In addition to writing for Apartment ABC. Connect with her at [email protected]

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