Keep Moths Away from Your Home – Repellents vs Mothballs vs Traps
By: Lisa Dingeman
If you’ve ever experienced moths in your home or belongings, you understand how much of a nuisance they can be—not to mention the damage they can cause to your linens and carpets. If you’ve found little holes in your clothes, patches in your carpets with disappearing fibers, or noticed moth activity near your pantry, these are all signs of a moth infestation in your home.
These pests seem to appear out of nowhere. They are seldom discovered until their damage has already been done. Moth larvae (which look like caterpillars), silken tubes, cocoons, and even droppings can be found wherever these pests are bedding and hatching—normally in your clothes or in food products.
When laying eggs, clothes moths prefer dark, undisturbed areas and fabrics that are also undisturbed (for example, that wool jacket you shoved in the back of your closet 6 months ago). Female moths can lay up to 50 eggs within 3 weeks and those eggs hatch within 10 days, although they may take a little longer in cooler conditions.
Pantry moths, or Indian meal moths, also look for places in your home that will provide food sources for their eggs when they hatch. This means pet food bags and pantry items like bags of flour are great places to call home.
Adult moths don’t have mouths, so it’s the larvae that are responsible for causing damage around the home. The damage that these pests can do to your home, clothing, and food is not something that should be taken lightly. Once you’ve noticed signs of these pests, taking the appropriate measures to remove them from your home is necessary.
Different Moth Control Methods Compared
Below we compare repellents vs mothballs vs traps to help you find which control method would best suit your situation.
Natural Moth Repellents
One of the best ways to prevent moth infestations is to invest in a repellent. Natural repellents are typically safe to use around humans and pets and are safe for the environment. There are no messy traps to clean up and no dead moths to dispose of.
EarthKind’s Stay Away® Moths deterrent pouches are made of botanical ingredients including geraniol, geranium and cedar essential oils. The fragrance is pleasing to humans, but it signals moths to avoid the area. The pouches come with a satisfaction guarantee.
Disadvantages – When using a natural repellent as opposed to a poison, it may take longer to rid your home of a pest. It can also be difficult to know how much to use, where to put them, and when to refresh or replace them.
Advantages – First and foremost, botanic deterrents are completely safe for your loved ones—and not only do they work for chasing moths away, they smell good while doing it. Another plus is that you can mix up your own repellent using essential oils like thyme, mint, lavender, or rosemary which are known to repel moths.
Mothballs and Other Poisons
Although conventional pest control typically involves poisons or pesticides, and mothballs for this pest specifically, the risks to human health of using toxic chemicals on clothing, bedding, and other fabrics are far too great. Because moths are attracted to items that people have a great deal of exposure to and close contact with, poisons are not advised when trying to control these pests.
Disadvantages – The most common complaint about mothballs is their smell. The odor gets into clothes and other linens and has to be washed out. They emit an odor because of the chemicals they are made with — these chemicals pose a health threat if ingested by people or animals, making some mothballs dangerous. Some have even been linked to accidental poisoning or death of pets. Moth crystals and other poisons aren’t any different; controlling these pests with harmful chemicals exposes your family and pets to serious risks.
Advantages – Most users report that mothballs are effective in killing moths. They are also inexpensive.
Traps are commonly used for pest control. Sticky traps leave you with the problem of having to dispose of dead moths. This can be disgusting and frustrating since it does not address the real problem. These traps catch moths at the adult stage of their life cycle, but it is during their larvae stage that they do damage.
Disadvantages – Traps can be a pain if you have to empty them, especially if you are someone who’s afraid of getting near an insect, dead or alive.
Advantages – Traps are typically pet and family friendly and won’t cause any damages to your linens and fabrics. They emit no pungent odor and can be left and forgotten about until the time comes to empty, or replace it.
More Tips for Getting Rid of Moths Naturally
Whether you’ve already noticed signs of these pests or want to prevent them from your home moving forward, here are a few more tips to further protect your home from moths:
- Keep clothing clean. Because clothes moths are attracted to natural fibers and lay their eggs in clothing, you should wash and dry or dry clean clothes before storing them away. This removes any larvae that may be stuck on the fabric, as well as the organic matter the moth larvae feed on such as sweat, body oils, food stains, and human or pet hair. Store items in airtight storage bags or totes rather than cardboard boxes for further protection.
- Vacuum seal unused or stored away linens. Since moths are attracted to clothes and other items that are made of natural fibers like fur, silk, cashmere, and wool, if these kinds of fabrics are rarely used, store them away in an airtight container, or vacuum seal them to keep pests out. This ensures that your Grandma’s old sweaters and blankets will be safe in your care.
- Store pantry foods and pet foods in airtight containers. Keep pantry moths out of your food products by storing them away in airtight glass, plastic or metal containers. Check food items consistently to make sure they are not infested.
- Clean and inspect storage areas, cracks, crevices. When months are ready to pupate, they seek out spaces where they’re less likely to be bothered, such as closets, boxes, carpet seams, in or under furniture, cracks in the wall, and in collars and folds of clothing. Clean these spaces and check them out regularly.
- Place Stay Away® Moths pouches in problem areas. Get rid of current infestations and prevent them from happening in the future with Stay Away Moth Deterrent. These pouches preserve nature’s delicate ecosystem by providing a no-kill alternative to mothballs, traps and other poisons. Place pouches in areas where you’ve found signs of moths including damage or dead moths.
If left alone, a moth problem can lead to a lot of damage around your home. It’s important to act quickly when you notice signs of these pests.