Have A Moth Problem? Here’s How To Keep Them In Check

April 11, 2023
Have A Moth Problem? Here’s How To Keep Them In Check

Moths are stealthy pests that can slip under the radar and infiltrate your home unnoticed. If left unchecked, the damage they cause may not be limited to just the simple foodstuffs in your pantry but also your beloved cashmere wool sweater and other prized garments in the wardrobe. If you’ve noticed more and more of this hole-y havoc around the house, now is the time to kick out these uninvited guests for good. Read on to learn how to tell if you are having a moth problem, how to deal with it, and ensure it does not come back again.

What are moths?

Moths are insects belonging to a group called Lepidoptera, the same winged insect order as butterflies. However, unlike their beautiful relatives, moths are nocturnal, smaller, and have dull patterns and colours. Two of the nearly 160,000 moth species are known to be the ones behind your damaged clothes and upholstery: the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth, both of which are common species in Singapore.

Contrary to what most people assume, the moths are not responsible for the moth holes around the house but rather their moth larvae. These tiny caterpillars have a fondness for dark places and dirty clothes and feed on natural fibres like cotton, silk, cashmere, and wool.

Meanwhile, the larvae made by other moth species, like the Indian meal moth, feed on common pantry goods like flour and grains, cereals, pet food, chocolate, and so on.

How to tell if your home has a moth problem

Seeing a moth flying about in your house is already a good sign that you have a moth problem to deal with. However, most moths that find their way into a home, especially if they are larger than a centimetre, pose no harm to your clothes or upholstery as they only feed on plants. In such cases, they may have simply entered your abode by accident. However, if you see moths the size of a staple fly out of the cupboards or closet, especially if they are a beige or grey colour, you will need to do a thorough inspection for a moth infestation. Some of the most conspicuous signs include:

  • For clothing moths

1. A sticky, web-like substance on clothes.

2. Irregularly-shaped furrows or holes in clothes.

3. Shedding of fur garments.

  • For pantry moths

1. Larvae or webs in dry goods.

2. Sticky secretions that make your grains clump together.

3. Cocoons on the ceiling or corners of the cupboards.

Health risks of moth infestations

Some moth larvae cause rashes known as caterpillar dermatitis upon contact, with symptoms including swelling, redness, and itching. Moreover, some adult and larval moths produce glycoproteins that may trigger allergic reactions when inhaled. Fortunately, most people do not exhibit such reactions to moths in their households.

Tips on getting rid of moths

Eliminating moths depends on the type you are dealing with, as pantry moths require a different strategy than closet moths.

  • Steps to remove moths in the pantry

1. Remove all foodstuffs in the pantry.

2. Discard all the infested items and dispose of or transfer the uninfested ones into airtight containers.

3. Vacuum the entire pantry and throw out the vacuum bag outside.

4. Scrub with soap and water and focus on the seams, corners, and ceilings where cocoons may continue to linger.

5. Avoid using pesticides in places that contain food.

  • Steps to remove moths in the closet

1. Throw out any apparel with apparent signs of infestation or damage.

2. Wash or dry clean the remaining undamaged clothes in hot water and tumble dry on high heat. Check their labels first to see if such washing methods are appropriate for their type of fabric.

3. Vacuum the entire wardrobe or closet and discard the vacuum bag outside.

4. Stow out-of-season clothes in vacuum-sealed bags or airtight containers.

5. Consider planting pheromone traps to catch the male moths and stop their breeding cycle.

6. Avoid using natural moth deterrents like lavender and cedar, and mothballs. The former is not proven effective, and while the latter works, it may be harmful to people and pets.

Best practices to prevent moth infestations

Saving your pantry goods and clothing starts with the proper prevention measures, including:

1. Avoid keeping dirty clothes in drawers or closets. Although moths prefer feeding on natural (and even synthetic) fibres, they are also attracted to sweat, food stains, and other residues with keratin.

2. If possible, leave your wardrobe or closet door ajar and open your drawers regularly since moths dislike light and movement. Also, move your items around purposefully to root out moths in hiding.

3. Store your outfits in places with no humidity, as moths are drawn to such environments.

4. Only keep enough dry goods that can be consumed quickly. These food items become more susceptible to moth infestations the longer they sit. If some items need to be stored in large quantities, place them in airtight containers made of hard materials.


Moths are not the most destructive of pests, nor do they pose a considerable health risk to your family. However, they can still cause headaches and sorrow if they somehow ruin your favourite outfits. As such, take note of the methods discussed above and be on the lookout for the signs that point to them taking residence in your home. And while you may have household items to prevent pest infestations, you can always benefit from effective pest control should the situation worsen.

Look no further than PestClinic for the best and most comprehensive pest control services at an affordable price. We provide reliable and effective solutions for all manners of pest problems, like mosquitoes, rodents, and cockroaches, as well as more in-depth services like termite inspection in Singapore to root out more hidden pests. For more information about our services, do not hesitate to give us a call!

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