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How to find and exterminate carpet moths

Tinea pellionella, the carpet moth, is a species that loves to eat and destroy wool carpets and are quite hard to get rid of. They are usually quite a dark brown colour and are fairly small and so it is easy to believe they generally go unnoticed in the wild, especially as they tend to stay close to animal nests and in burrows where there is fur/skin available as a food source.

In homes, however, they will often complete seven life cycles rather than just a couple as they munch through furniture, carpets and other fabrics.

Unfortunately, they are not the only species to enter our properties and cause damage. A more common moth, Tineola bisselliella favours clothing too, especially garments that contain natural fibres such as wool or silk.

Because of the nature of the diet, it often means that they switch between clothes and carpets as they cannot distinguish between the different objects. The damage is caused by the larvae when they eat the Keratin which exists in such materials. One of the main signals of an infestation is holes or other types of damage on clothes or carpets (in bad cases they can be thread-bare). When there is a constant food source, the larvae can remain in that form for up to 3 years before becoming adults.

The adult moth usually has a wingspan of 15-17 mm. The colour varies but tends to be between a pale grey and a fairly dark brown and often has spots. They do however live a short life, with the female laying up to 300 eggs in its 2 week lifespan. Eggs are normally laid in relatively dark areas such as under skirting boards and furniture and in corners. Eggs will then hatch within 10 days and from that point, they will become destructive with your carpet being the food source.

It is much more common to notice moth activity in the South, as they favour warmer climates.


Preventing a moth infestation

The best and most effective way to prevent an infestation of carpet moths is to buy a carpet they will not enjoy chewing. Polypropylene carpets are really difficult to digest and so the moths won’t eat much of it at all and eventually they will die out.

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