Identifying and Getting Rid of Carpet Moths

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Carpet moths may seem harmless until you see the damage they cause. They can completely ruin clothes, blankets, carpets, and nearly anything made of fabric.

Getting rid of them is no easy task because the larvae cause the most damage are not easy to find.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered.

In this post, I will walk you through the steps to get rid of carpet moths, once and for all. You can finally feel safe that your clothes and carpet are not getting destroyed.

Let’s get started.

Identifying Carpet Moths

Before you begin it is important that you confirm the moth in your home is actually a carpet moth.

Before you do so it’s important to note that carpet moths and clothes moths are often confused.

The truth is that they are the same. There are two distinct species of carpet or clothes moths:

  • Webbing clothes moth
  • Case bearing clothes moth

While these look slightly different, they thrive and eat in the same locations.

The webbing clothes moth is more common and typically the moth that invades homes in the U.S.

There are a few things you can look for to confirm that you have carpet months.

The first is the appearance:

  • Carpet months are 5mm long and have a wingspan of 14-18mm.
  • Carpet moths are smaller than common house moths.

Case Bearing Moths

case bearing carpet moth
  • They have a wingspan of 9 to 16 millimeters,
  • They are between 4mm and 8mm long.
  • Case-bearing moths have a silvery grey color.
  • Case-bearing moths can take on a tri-color effect that is grey, black, and brown or some have one single grey color to them.
  • Both moths have fringe hair at the ends of their wings. The color will vary depending on the color of the moths’ wings.

Webbing Clothes Moth

webbing-clothes-moth (1)
  • Webbing clothes moths have a golden tint to the wings. 
  • Short golden hair on their head
  • Webbing clothes moths are 5mm long and have a wingspan of 14-18mm.
  • They are  smaller than the common house moths. 

The second thing you can look out for is the larva: 

  • Carpet moth larvae are around ¼ to ½ inch long. 
  • They are cream in color with a dark head. 

The final thing you may see is the cocoon: 

  • The cocoons are small white cases around ½ inch long. 
  • Look similar to grains of rice. 
  • These will eventually break open and the moth will hatch.

Carpet moths lay eggs but it’s very unlikely that you will see these due to how small they are. If you are not looking for them it’s unlikely you will ever notice them. 

Signs of Carpet Moths?

It’s often mistaken that carpet months damage fabrics and upholstery. The reality is that the adult carpet moths are completely harmless to humans and fabric.

The cause of the damage is from the larva. When carpet moths are larva they will eat on the fibers of clothes and other materials until they are ready to enter the cocoon so they can molt.

Below are some of the key signs of carpet moth activity in your home.

1. Silken Tubes and Cocoons

silken tubes

If you have carpet months you will find silken tubes that the larva create as they eat and consume the fabrics.

You will typically find this within clothing, on carpets, upholstery, or other fabric.

Keep an eye out for these signs so that you can identify where the carpet months are congregating and you can centralize your area of attack.

These silken tubes are typically attached to the piece of cloth or fiber that the larvae are feeding on so it’s typically easy to identify.

These are open ended tubes, typically the same color as the fabric they are eating. Case Bearing Moths drag these around with them everywhere they go, whereas webbing Clothes moths do not create these silken tubes.

Oftentimes, with webbing clothes moths you will find cocoons near or on the fabric they have been feeding on.

2. Live Larvae Crawling Around

carpet moth larvae and moth

Another key sign of a carpet moth infestation is if you find live larvae on fabric inside your home.

These look like small white worms with dark heads moving around inside your fabrics.

You can find these anywhere there is fabric such as your clothes, carpets, blankets, or furniture.

3. Damaged Fabric

carpet moth damage

If you spot damaged wool or cotton around your home then this is a sign of carpet months.

These larvae will eat the fabric eventually causing small holes or causing the fibers to fall off your items.

The damage is a bit easier to spot when you are looking at clothes or blankets because you can pick it up and move it around to easily identify any areas that have been damaged.

Identifying the damage on carpets is a bit harder. To do this you typically need to use a brush or your hand to comb over the carpet.

If the carpet is damaged you will see:

  • Fibers falling apart
  • Holes inside carpet
  • Uneven patches of the carpet where fibers are missing.

4. Live Moths

Another sign that you might have a carpet moth infestation is if you have lots of months in your home.

This is especially true if you tend to find these months in unused areas of your home or in dark and undisturbed areas.

These moths are likely the hatched larvae of carpet months.

It’s best if you see live moths, to look for any fabric or material that may be attracting them and that they could be feeding on.

How To Get Rid Of Carpet Moths

1. Locate The Infestation

The first step to getting rid of carpet moths is to first identify where they are located and how severe the infestation is.

Without knowing the severity of location, treating carpet moths is difficult and often unsuccessful.

One of the best ways to determine where the infestation is located is using moth traps.

These traps are glue boards that use pheromones to attract male moths. Place these in areas where you suspect carpet months to be infesting.

Carpet months prefer dark, undisturbed areas with a potential food source.

Carpet moths do not consume just any fabric. They eat keratin, which is a fiber or protein found naturally in fabric fibers.

They are most common in wool, silk, cashmere, and cotton.

Place moth traps near these types of fabrics so that the moths are more likely to approach the trap.

These traps are not effective ways of getting rid of carpet months. They are only designed to attract adult male carpet months.

This is because it uses female pheromones to attract male carpet moths.

With severe infestations, these traps can catch plenty of adult months within several days of setting the trap.

On the other hand, for minor infestations, you may only catch several moths with ease.

Once you have identified which room the carpet months are located in, you need to identify their source of food.

Inspect the room and any fabrics or fibers in the room for signs of feeding. This can be larvae, silken tubes, or damage to the fabric.

Just because you don’t catch any moths inside the trap doesn’t mean that there is no carpet moth infestation.

It’s important to always inspect the remainder of the room for any other signs or carpet moths.

Carpet moths are commonly found on carpets. It’s important to inspect your carpet to see if you find either silken tubes, larva or carpet damage.

Carpet moths prefer to be undisturbed. This means they are either inside a room or location that is not visited often. Or they could be hiding in the corners of rooms where there is not much traffic.

I suggest you check under furniture, along baseboards, in the corners, or on curtains.

You might also want to look inside dressers, closets, or anywhere you have stored fabric. Carpet moths are strategic with their placement of eggs. They will choose areas that are dark, undisturbed, and have enough food to support their newly laid eggs.

2. Wash All Fabrics

Once you have identified the source of the moth infestation, it is time to start getting rid of them. There are two different types of infestation that affect how you will treat your infestation.

First, if you have an infestation on your clothes, or blankets, or anything other than a carpet you would take a slightly different approach.

Since clothes can be easily moved and treated, eliminating moths from them is much easier.

I recommend gathering all the clothes or fabric in the infested room and preparing it to be washed or steam cleaned.

Any fabrics and clothes that can be washed should be washed. Ideally, you want to use hot water to kill off any larvae or eggs that are still hiding in the material.

As a precaution, you can also dry your clothes on high heat to kill any moths that survive the washer.

For the most effective results, it’s best to keep your loads small so that each piece of clothing and fabric is being properly washed and dried with sufficient heat to kill any insects.

I also highly recommend that while you wait to wash any remaining clothes, place them in trash bags to prevent the spread of the carpet moths to other parts of your home.

3. Vacuum and steam Clean

Once all the fabrics have been removed and washed. It’s time to treat the carpet inside the infested room.

If the infested room does not have carpet, then you might consider skipping this step.

With carpet floors, it’s possible that although the manifestation took place in the washable fabric, there could be some carpet moths living inside the carpet.

To prevent the population from rebuilding and starting over, clean and treat the carpets as well.

Other important items to clean include any furniture such as couches, chairs, or other upholstered items that the moths could be feeding on.

To eliminate carpet months you need to vacuum the entire room, ensuring you get into corners and crevices where eggs and larva could be hiding.

It’s also important that you move all the furniture to ensure that you vacuum and steam clean every part of the carpet and upholstered furniture.

Those hard to reach areas or areas that are not visible are the most likely locations where carpet moths will be living and hiding.

Don’t cut any corners, and do your best to cover every inch of the room with the vacuum and steam cleaner.

The vacuum will give you an initial pass of removing any debris and dead moths. The steam will allow you to apply a deadly head to any remaining eggs or larvae that may have been able to escape the vacuum.

Steaming is highly effective because it kills most insects; moth larvae and eggs will die upon contact.

4. Use Dust and Spray for Added Protection

For added protection, you can also use chemicals to help you get rid of the carpet moths.

Two common approaches are dust and spray treatments.

To use these methods you would apply a layer of dust to the carpet. Using a brush or broom to move the carpet to allow the dust to penetrate deep into the carpet.

This dust is designed to kill eggs or larvae that are living inside the carpet.

Likewise, you can do the same with a spray treatment. You would use the spray to inject the chemical deep into the carpet.

This will kill any larvae or eggs that are living inside the carpet.

After using these chemicals it’s important that you clean up properly afterward.

When using the dust, be sure that you vacuum afterward. You do not want to leave the dust inside the carpet. When people walk over the carpet, the dust will get suspended in the air and your family could ingest the dust.

Likewise, when using the spray you can opt to wipe down any areas outside of the carpet that you may have sprayed accidentally.

Typically, sprays will have a residual effect which is a huge advantage compared to using dust.

With any treatment, I recommended that you repeat this process monthly for 2-4 months to ensure that you fully eliminate the moth population.

5. Fumigation

Another option for getting rid of carpet moths is fumigation. While this does seem a bit excessive you do not need to call in a professional.

First, you can fumigate using vapor packs such as Nuvan Pro Strips. These are highly effective and potent fumigation packs that you can use.

This method works much better if the area is small and easy to seal off. This will allow for the most effective use of the vapors.

If you are treating large rooms such as living rooms or family rooms that are hard to seal off I suggest you avoid fumigation.

When fumigating your house, ideally you want to leave the area undisturbed and sealed off for around 24-48 hours.

This provides the most effective results.

Once you are done fumigating, it’s important to ventilate the room properly. Allow for four to six hours for the room to ventilate before you return.

This is extremely important because the chemical used by Nuvan is highly toxic if inhaled for extended periods of time.

6. Repeat Application

To ensure that you have fully eliminated the carpet moths in your home it’s important to repeat the treatment process once a month for the next two to four months.

This will ensure that you fully eliminate the entire moth population and that they are not reproducing and building their population again.

It is very difficult to kill a very single adult moth, larvae, and egg with one single treatment. To ensure that over time you can eliminate the entire infestation, multiple treatments are required.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Do Carpet Moths Come From?

Carpet moths naturally live outdoors. They are commonly found in birds’ nests. Inside the bird’s nest, they feed on the keratin found in the bird’s feathers.

Carpet moths can also survive by eating the keratin from discarded fur or dead skin from animals.

They can enter your home due to the moths’ attraction to light. They are also commonly brought in by accidentally bringing in eggs into your home.

Another common way carpet moths enter the home is through used items such as furniture. This is especially true when purchasing antiques or older furniture that might have been stored outside.

Do Carpet Moths Bite?

Moths are not capable of biting. Most moths do not have the right mouthparts to bite. Larvae also do not have the ability to bite people.

Larvae do use their mouth to eat on fabric but these moth parts can not cause any harm to people or pets.
Overall, moths are completely harmless.

However, they do have the potential to cause allergic reactions in some

What do carpet moths eat?

Carpet moths eat animal fibers that contain keratin. Keratin is commonly found inside wool, cashmere, silk, and some cotton. This is the natural food source for carpet months. In nature, carpet months receive keratin by eating bird feathers or other types of dead hair or skin that animals might leave around.

Adult carpet moths do not eat anything. Once they are adults, they lay eggs and live a short life afterward.

The larvae of the carpet month are the one that does all the eating. They eat as much as they can until they can create a cocoon and become an adult.

How long do carpet moths live?

Carpet moths have a very short lifespan, only living around two to four months. Adult carpet moths can lay hundreds of eggs in their short lifespan.

Carpet moth larvae can survive much longer. In some cases, the carpenter moth can stay as larvae for up to two years. This allows them to cause severe damage to the carpet and any other fabrics.

Once the larva is ready to become an adult, they build a cocoon. The larvae will stay in the cocoon for about two periods before it’s ready to hatch and become an adult article.

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