Clothing moths and dry ice irradication

Asked March 1, 2017, 4:02 PM EST

I have clothing moths and have tried several methods of complete irradication. Not completely gone. I have the pheranome things all over the house and am still catching a few adult males. For the final treatment, I am using dry ice. I have put the clothes in a plastic hanging bag which has a zipper which I have left open 1/2 inch for vapors to escape. The dry ice, a couple of pounds of it, in the bottom of the bag. My question is does the dry ice kill the moths and larvae by cold or lack of oxygen in the space? The bottom of the bag is cold but the clothes don't seem particularly cold. Will this work? I am moving into a new house on Monday March 6 and would like to make sure I don't move clothing moths. Thanks for your help. Roberta Margolis tel.818-370-0200 (I live in Portland)

Multnomah County Oregon

1 Response

I have included information about both non chemical and chemical control methods as an informational opportunity should you be interested in futher treatment strategies. Placing the entire clothes bag in the freezer is recommended. Best of luck with your move!

Controlling fabric pests

Eliminating clothes moths and dermestid beetles can be a challenge. As with pantry pests, the first step is to find and eliminate all feeding sites. Unfortunately, there may be many points of infestation. Check these potential problem areas:

• In drawers: leathers, felt fabrics, folded silks, woolen blankets, natural-hair art brushes, and other susceptible materials

• In closets: woolen sweaters, shirts, and jackets, especially under the collars; furs; feather dusters or other feather items; felt hats; and stuffed trophy mounts

• On the floor: woolen rugs, carpet pads made of animal hair, and pet hair accumulations along baseboards and under furniture

• Furniture: old chairs or sofas stuffed with horsehair; accumulations of pet hair

• On walls: susceptible art objects; wool, mohair or silk draperies; trophy mounts; and dried flower arrangements

• In walls, ceilings, and attics: old rodent baits; stored items; bird or animal carcasses; old bird, rodent, bee, or wasp nests; and accumulations of dead insects in light fixtures or on window sills. Previous infestations of lady beetles or box elder bugs may leave accumulations of dead insects that provide food for dermestid beetles.

• Other sites: potpourri, spilled pet food in utility rooms, old mouse nests under cabinets, and decorations containing grains or noodles

Nonchemical control.

Discard infested items, or treat and protect them from further attack. Clothing can be disinfested by washing or dry-cleaning.

Annual or semi-annual “spring cleaning” is especially effective in controlling clothes moths. Rugs and blankets should be beaten or shaken vigorously and exposed to bright sunlight for several hours. Thoroughly vacuuming storage areas and susceptible rugs is helpful. The best protection for valuable stored items is to open and inspect them often.

Treat valuable articles of clothing and other items by freezing them for 7 to 14 days; if done properly, freezing is less destructive than is heating. In general, textiles, furs, feathers, leather, paper, and wood can be frozen safely. Before placing articles in the freezer, enclose them in airtight polyethylene bags with as much of the air removed as possible. This reduces the chance of ice forming directly on an article and damaging it. If you are concerned about possibly damaging a valuable item, contact a local museum with experts in the conservation of historical artifacts.

Clothing that is susceptible to insect damage should be stored in airtight boxes or garment bags. Cold storage can effectively protect furs and other valuable items from attack.

Chemical control.

Cedar closets, cedar chests, and pieces of cedar wood placed in storage areas may repel insects for a short while, but they do not guarantee protection. Vapors from cedar wood are effective only when the wood is freshly cut or chipped and the container is sealed well. Few cedar chests more than 2 or 3 years old produce enough vapors to kill pests.

Naphthalene and paradichlorobenzene (PBD) products are more effective than is cedar, but they must be sealed tightly with the clothes. To kill moth larvae, use 1 to 2 pounds of repellent per 100 cubic feet of air. Because the fumes from PDB crystals will soften or melt certain plastic products, be careful when using them with plastics.

Insecticide sprays can supplement good sanitation and other measures. To help keep pests out of the home, spray around windows and light fixtures. Closets with carpet beetle or moth infestations may also be treated. Remove the clothing before spraying, and let the spray dry completely before putting items back in the closet.

Sprays also can be applied along the edges of carpets where pet hair and insects accumulate, or on the undersides of carpets or carpet pads.

Because most clothing pests live in protected locations, aerosol insecticides (“bug bombs”) are not very effective for treating these pests.