• Bal Arisi

Recognizing the Warning Signs of Cloth Moths


Insect infestation is a common and often reoccurring problem in home environments. Insects make no distinction between valuable textiles and utilitarian ones. They seek out opportune environments to infest. Often Oriental rugs contain wool face knots and are often conducive for shelter, reproduction, and in the case of some moths species, for food.


There are two types of moths whose larvae feed on wool, the case-making moth and the webbing moth. The adult moths themselves cause no damage, but the larvae they produce are very damaging. It is the larvae that actually feed exclusively on animal fibers, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt, and leather. These materials contain keratin, a fibrous protein that the worm-like larvae of the clothes moth can digest.


Soiled textiles, especially those soiled with pet urine, make for a more hospitable environment for infestation with higher moisture levels as well as additional sources of nourishment for insect larvae development. Proper area rug washing is highly effective for pet urine removal. This is just one reason to have a professional area rug cleaning done on your valuable fine woolen rugs. It is far less expensive to pay to have rugs cleaned than it is to pay for oriental rug repair.


Clothes moths thrive in dark, undisturbed areas where a rug gets little traffic and is not often vacuumed. They are particularly attracted to the keratin in animal hair. The wool alone in an Oriental rug is susceptible, but just imagine a dirty rug covered in dog and cat hair. They can feed on mixtures of natural and synthetic fabrics. However, they cannot feed on materials made solely of synthetic fibers. As mentioned above, they can be found in synthetic fibers which have pollen, hair, dead insects, and dried animal remains on them. Again, it can’t be stressed enough that proper professional cleaning of your Oriental rug or wool area rug can truly save you from this nightmare.


Typically peak season for adult emergence is in April and May, and often another one in late August/early September. However, with warmer winters becoming more common in Bucks County, moths are no longer just a Spring/Summer nuisance but yearlong. Interestingly, clothes moths are unlike other varieties. They are not attracted to bright lights and tend to seek darker areas or dim light. This makes it very difficult to detect them in dark closets and drawers. It is most likely that you will notice fabric damage or larvae before you see the moths themselves.


So, how can you recognize the warning signs of cloth-eating moths?

  1. The flying adults. When a lot of flying adult moths are present, the infestation can be considerable.

  2. Spots in your rug that are missing pile This results from the larvae actually eating the knots off the foundation of the rug.

  3. Cocoons—1/8 inch diameter x ½ inch long. They will be slightly fuzzy cylinders, usually the same color as the rug’s pile. Larvae camouflage their cocoons to blend in with the color of the wool that surrounds them.

  4. Eggs- granular, sand-like material between the pile of your rug are moth eggs

  5. The actual larvae squirming along the pile surface and underneath the rug.

The best way to avoid this situation is to eliminate conditions that promote moth infestation.

  1. Keep home textiles, especially wool area rugs, clean. Spills should be removed immediately. Pet soiled carpet and area rugs should be cleaned promptly. Rugs, draperies, upholstery, etc., should be vacuumed regularly and professionally cleaned periodically, as insects do not generally attack clean materials. Washing is highly recommended, and subsequent wrapping in a breathable product such as Tyvek or Heavy Kraft paper to inhibit soiling and infestations while in storage.

  2. Have a professional area rug cleaning done on all wool rugs and have them treated before an infestation occurs. After a thorough cleaning, Bal Arisi can treat wool area rugs with a product that deters moths. Insect infestation is a common and often reoccurring problem in home environments. Insects make no distinction between valuable textiles and utilitarian ones. They seek out opportune environments to infest. Often Oriental rugs contain wool face knots and are often conducive for shelter, reproduction, and in the case of some moths species, for food.

What to do if you find a moth infestation in your rug or clothes.

Once moths have found a home in your home, removing just one infested rug or piece of clothing is not enough. Though you may not see signs immediately, it is more than likely that other woolen rugs, clothing, down pillows, or anything with feathers will have been affected too. You will need to contact a professional exterminator to treat the entire house. Having area rugs cleaned will not eliminate a reinfestation when it is re-introduced to an untreated environment.

When an infestation is detected, the infested textile should be removed from the home or confined (wrapped in plastic) to stop the spread of infestation to other textiles and treated soon as possible. Contact a licensed pest control service to treat your home and textile for moths specifically.


If attention and care are paid to your valuable Oriental rugs or fine area rugs, moths will not eat your investment, and you will have these rugs for many years to come.


24 views0 comments