Of all the unpleasant insect pests that can infest your basement, clothes moths probably aren't the first thing that comes to mind. Unfortunately, clothes moths and their larvae frequently become unwelcome guests in basements, putting fabric items and furnishings at serious risk of damage.
Why Do Clothes Moths Invade Basements?
Like most insects, clothes moths tend to thrive in warm, moist, sheltered environments. Many residential basements tick all of these boxes, particularly if they are poorly ventilated and/or suffer from dampness.
Once they have invaded a basement, adult clothes moths will make a beeline (or mothline) for any exposed fabrics. While the adult, flying moths do not consume fabrics, their larvae do. Female moths will lay their eggs on fabrics so their larvae can start eating as soon as they hatch.
Clothes moth larvae can eat almost any natural fabric, including silk, wool, linen, and cotton. They can even consume synthetic fabrics if they contain some natural fibers (such as wool blend fabrics). They will also eat human and pet hair, skin flakes, fingernail clippings, and other objects that contain keratin.
If you use your basement as a general storage area, it can easily become infested with clothes moths if you use it to store natural fabrics in unsealed containers. Basements that have been converted into living spaces can be even more vulnerable, and moth larvae can quickly cause severe damage to carpeting, rugs, upholstered furniture, and drapes.
How Can You Remove Clothes Moths From Your Basement?
Clothes moths tend to hide when disturbed, and their caterpillar-like larvae can be difficult to spot. However, the characteristic holes they leave in fabrics are all too easy to see.
If fabric items in your basement are being damaged, you should call in a professional pest control service to inspect your basement. If your pest control service finds signs of clothes moth infestation, they can deploy a range of methods to exterminate both the adult moths and their larvae.
Vacuuming can be a surprisingly effective way to reduce moth larvae numbers in your basement. Your pest control service will run powerful vacuums over any and all fabric items in your basement. You can also do this yourself with a basic household vacuum, but bear in mind that vacuuming alone is rarely enough to completely destroy an infestation.
Heat and freezing treatments can also be very effective. Your pest control service will place infested fabrics in specialized heating or freezing chambers, destroying the larvae and their eggs. This obviously isn't recommended for fabrics that are sensitive to heat or cold and cannot be used to treat non-removable fabric items, such as carpets.
Pheromone traps may be set up to capture and kill adult moths, preventing them from laying any more eggs. These sticky traps are impregnated with artificial scents that mimic the pheromones produced by mating moths. They are an excellent alternative to mothballs, many of which are both toxic and carcinogenic.
If these conservative measures do not destroy the infestation, your pest control service will break out the insecticides. Commercial-grade insecticides are far more powerful than the sprays and powders you can find at hardware stores, and will quickly wipe out your moth problem. Your service will determine the most effective areas to deploy them, without causing any accidental contamination.
For more information, contact a pest control company near you.