Natural Moth Control

Are little moths fluttering through your kitchen or crawling in your closet? Metro Natural Gardening Expert Carl Grimm showed us how to get rid of moths without resorting to toxic pesticides.

The first question is what kind of moth do you have?
• If you notice little moths fluttering about your home, chances are they are meal moths. Clothes moths, on the other hand, are more likely to be found crawling on clothes in drawers and closets. Meal moths are about a half-inch long and clothes moths are about a quarter-inch long.
• Meal moths arrive on food or food containers and clothes moths can hitchhike into your home on second-hand furniture or clothes.

You can master meal moths without poisons
• Meal moths eat any dry foods, including grains, crackers, dried fruit, cereals, and pet food. They can also survive on tiny crumbs in cabinet corners and drawer crevices.
• To prevent meal moths, store all foods in clean, rigid, airtight containers or in the refrigerator or freezer. Keep all cupboards and drawers clean with soap and water and carefully scrub or vacuum all corners and crevices regularly.
• If there is webbing or larva in dry foodstuffs, dispose of infested food in your garbage or food waste collection bin.
• When you buy new dry goods, don’t mix the old with the new, just in case the old food has moth eggs or larva you missed.
• Flying moths can be killed between the palms of your hands if you are quick enough, but pheromone traps may be more effective and are available at hardware stores and online.
• Never use pesticides for meal moths – they are not effective and expose your food and your family to poisonous chemicals.

Clothes moths can be quashed without toxics, too
• Clothes moths eat wool, furs, feathers, other natural fibers and dirt in any fabric.
• To prevent clothes moths, never store dirty clothes, and clean and seal up susceptible clothing before putting them away. Regularly air out, sun and shake clothing, and vacuum carpets, drapes and furniture.
• If you find moths, their little cocoons, or larva on fabric, kill them simply by washing or dry cleaning. Alternatively, place items in the freezer for a couple of days, pull them out for an hour and then put them back in for a few more days.
• Pheromone traps can also attract and kill clothes moths. Purchase them at the hardware store, set them up in your closets and check regularly to see if you have a problem.
• Do not use chemical repellants like moth balls as they are extremely toxic and dangerous – especially to kids.
• And while cedar and herbal sachets can contain natural chemicals lethal to moths, research has shown them to be unreliable methods of moth control.
• The most important strategies are to keep clothes clean and well sealed or used regularly.

Learn more from Metro and partners
• Get your free factsheets on nontoxic moth control and more from Metro by calling 503-234-3000, or visit oregonmetro.gov/sustainableliving.
• For nontoxic pest control in the garden, visit growsmartgrowsafe.org.

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