Battle of the Bugs: Removing Carpet Beetles and Moths

Have you ever gone to pull that wrinkled sweater out of your closet only to notice that it's full of holes? Or how about the Pendleton Wool blanket in the spare bedroom that mysteriously starts resembling Swiss cheese?

Moths and carpet beetles can and wreak havoc by infesting your closet, pantry, and carpets while silently damaging your clothing, food and furniture.

But there is hope! By applying some of our tips, you can get rid of and prevent your pesky infestations. Read on to learn how to win the battle of the bugs.

Don't let the carpet beetles or moths win this fight! You've got this!
Don't let the carpet beetles or moths win this fight! You've got this!

Carpet Beetles vs. Moths: Who's Who?

Before we get into how to get rid of carpet beetles and moths, it's essential to know which pest you're dealing with. The most common carpet beetle is the black carpet beetle, which is about 1/8 inch long and has a black or brown body. Other types of carpet beetles include the furniture carpet beetle and the varied carpet beetle.

They get their name from their fondness for eating carpets and feasting on clothing and other fabrics during their larval stage. Carpet beetles are particularly attracted to natural fibers like wool and fur.

On the other hand, moths are generally a bit larger than carpet beetles and are gray or brown. They, too, love to eat fabric but are especially drawn to stored food items like grains and cereals.

The Moth Life Cycle

Understanding the moth life cycle will help you identify and remove them effectively.

Stage 1: Larvae Pupate

Don't be fooled by this moth's cute smile!
Don't be fooled by this moth's cute smile!

The first stage of the clothes moth invasion is the metamorphosis of pupae into adult moths. The sole purpose of these adult moths is to breed and lay eggs. Contrary to their larvae, adult moths don't eat and have a limited lifespan of around 1 month. This is the window of opportunity to strike and weaken their population before they have time to reproduce and continue their assault on your clothing.

Stage 2: The Reproductive Phase

Female moths lay up to 200 eggs in a single month!
Female moths lay up to 200 eggs in a single month!

The second stage of the clothes moth invasion is the reproductive phase. Each mated female moth lays up to 200 eggs in a single month. These eggs pave the way to a new generation of invaders, waiting to hatch and continue their destructive cycle.

Stage 3: Larvae Hatch

These fleshy little larvae only have one thing on their mind: eating keratin around your house!
These fleshy little larvae only have one thing on their mind: eating keratin around your house!

The third stage of the invasion is the hatching of eggs and emergence of larvae. These tiny and voracious pests will remain in their larval stage for up to 30 or more months before finally pupating into adult moths. This prolonged stage is a critical threat, as they begin causing irreversible damage by eating away at clothes, carpets, and textiles.

How to Get Rid of Carpet Beetles and Moths: The Game Plan

Now that you know which bug you're up against, it's time to formulate a plan of attack. Fortunately, there are ways to eliminate all the species of carpet beetles without hiring a professional exterminator. Here are some tips to help you keep them out of your home.

How to Get Rid of a Carpet Beetle Infestation

Carpet beetles are pesky little creatures that can wreak havoc on your clothes, carpets, and textiles. You can do some things to get rid of them for good.

1. Boric Acid

Just sprinkle some boric acid onto your carpet and vacuum it up after a few hours. The boric acid will kill carpet beetle eggs and adult beetles, eliminating the infestation. Just be sure to keep your pets and children away from the treated area until the vacuuming is complete. You can also purchase boric acid traps, which will help to quickly eliminate any beetles that come into contact with them.

2. Use Insecticide Soap

If you see any signs of damage caused by carpet beetles, it's essential to treat the area immediately. Spray insecticidal soap directly onto the affected area. This will kill both the adults and larvae. Be careful not to let children or pets come near the treated area.

3. Seal Cracks and Crevices

You don't want to trap carpet beetles inside your house. Check underneath upholstered furniture and behind appliances for places where they could hide. Once you've sealed off potential hiding spots, seal up any gaps around windows and doors.

4. Use Steam Cleaning Equipment

Steam cleaning works best against carpet beetles because it removes the moisture that allows them to survive. You can use a steam cleaner to clean up areas where carpet beetles are hiding.

5. Natural Remedies

You can use natural remedies to kill carpet beetles. Mix one part white vinegar and three parts water. Spray it on the infested areas. Let it dry completely. Repeat every week. This method works best if you do it once a month.

6. Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a naturally occurring sedimentary rock composed of the remains of diatoms, a type of algae. The unique structure of the diatomaceous earth makes it an effective insecticide. When dry, it is abrasive to the exoskeletons of insects, causing them to dehydrate and die. It also helps prevent the growth of mildew and mold. Although diatomaceous earth is safe for humans and animals, pregnant women and children under five should avoid it.

How to Get Rid of a Moth Infestation

So, how can you tell which kind of moth you're dealing with? Clothing moths prefer natural fibers like wool and cotton, while flour and grain are more likely to attract pantry moths. If you find moth's sweater holes in your cashmere sweater, chances are they're clothes moths. And, if you find them near your pantry or cupboards, they're probably pantry moths.

Once you've identified which type of moth you're dealing with, you can take steps to get kill moths:

1. Buy Moth Traps

Moth Prevention® hanging pheromone traps can be easily placed in between your clothes within your closet.
Moth Prevention® hanging pheromone traps can be easily placed in between your clothes within your closet.

Vacuum any areas where you've seen moths or carpet beetles, along with any cracks or crevices where they might be hiding. Set up moth traps using sticky paper or pheromone traps, which lure the moths into a space they can't escape. They're easy to use and inexpensive. You'll find them in hardware stores, garden centers, and online retailers.

2. Use Moth Repellents

Moth repellents are another effective method for keeping moths away. You can apply moth repellents directly to clothing or spray them onto fabric. Some products contain DEET, which is toxic to insects, while others contain natural ingredients such as citronella oil.

3. Store Clothing Properly

If you don't want to purchase expensive mothballs, store clothing properly. Hang items up high to discourage moths from crawling down to your clothing. Also, try storing clothing in plastic bags rather than paper ones. This prevents moths from getting trapped in the folds of the bag. Keep your closet clean and ventilate it well. Clothes that hang too close together allow for condensation and humidity. These conditions encourage mold and mildew growth.

4. Cedar Products

Cedar products are a great way to protect your belongings from moth damage. The cedar oil deters moths from laying their eggs in your clothes. Cedar hangers, cedar chips, and cedar balls are a great way to keep your drawers smelling fresh.

5. Herbs

Place herbs in a small cloth bag and hang them in the closet. Dilute the essential oil in water and spray the inside of your closet. Don't let the oils drip onto your clothes.

6. White Vinegar

White vinegar is an effective cleaner you can use to clean almost anything. You can even use it to clean your car! Here are some tips on how to use white vinegar effectively.

How to Prevent Future Infestations

No one wants to deal with a house infestation, but sometimes there's no avoiding it. If you've already dealt with the problem, you're probably wondering how to prevent future infestations. Luckily, you can do a few things to deter pests from making themselves home in your house.

  1. Keep cotton, wool, silk, and fur clothes in plastic totes.
  2. Remove pet hair and dander from your home: Pet hair and dander can quickly build up in your home. One of the best ways to remove pet hair is to use a lint roller. This will help to catch any loose hairs that are floating around. For dander, you'll want to focus on vacuuming and dusting regularly. Be sure to pay special attention to areas where your pet likes to sleep or spend time.
  3. Clean up clutter around your home: Moths love a good pile of paper or clothing to feast on. So if you're looking to prevent future moth infestations, one of the best things you can do is declutter your home. Make a habit of putting things away in their proper place, and don't let the mess build up.
  4. Seal cracks and crevices where insects hide: Use caulk or silicone sealant to fill gaps around windows, doors, baseboards, electrical outlets, light fixtures, pipes, vents, skylights, chimneys, attics, crawl spaces, garages, sheds, basements, and anywhere else insects might enter.

If All Else Fails, Get Help

Don't tell grandma that sweater she got you 10 years ago has been destroyed!
Don't tell grandma that sweater she got you 10 years ago has been destroyed!

If you still see bugs after taking these preventive measures, it may be time to call a professional exterminator. They will have the tools and expertise necessary to eliminate your bug problem.

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