Many kinds of pests dine on our fabrics and food

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Fabric pests feed on a variety of organic materials including cotton products, wool products, animal fur, feathers, clothing, carpeting, draperies and other fabrics. Most fabric pests are either clothes moths or carpet (dermestid) beetles, although silverfish and crickets can also feed on these products.

There are two distinct types of clothes moths commonly found in homes. They are both small. The webbing clothes moth is a solid golden brown on the wings, while the casemaking clothes moth has three black spots on each wing. Casemaking clothes moth larvae construct a small bag from material to protect their body from the environment. They drag the bag or tube wherever they feed.

Clothes moths are occasionally found in closets where they lay their eggs on suitable fabric. There are several things you can do to prevent clothes moths. First, keep clothes and other fabrics stored in sealed, plastic bags. Next you can hang some repellents in the closets. Put dried lemon peels, cedar chips, dried rosemary or mint in cheese cloth bags and hang them in the closets. Make sure any carpets in the closet are clean and free of lint or animal hair or any organic debris.

If you have clothes moths, you should hang one Clothes Moth Pheromone Trap in each closet. It will attract and catch the male moths and stop the breeding process.

Carpet beetle larvae are small, about 1/4-inch long and carrot-shaped with long hairs. They will feed on anything organic. The adult beetles are small, round and usually black in color, sometimes with lighter markings.

The best method for controlling carpet beetles is by completely cleaning everything. Steam clean the carpets if possible as well as any upholstered furniture. Make sure you vacuum under all furniture as carpet beetles can survive feeding on dust bunnies.

Also, adult carpet beetles feed on the nectar in flowers so they don’t do any damage beyond breeding indoors.

A number of pests attack our foods – several species of moths and over a dozen beetles, but some grain mites will also make their presence known. Not only will they eat our foods, they will eat and breed in poisoned rodent baits (another good reason not to use them).

Pantry pests almost always come in from the stores we shop at. Usually it is just coincidental, but if you bring more home then you need, tell the store manager where you shop so they can do what they have to do in the store. Or shop somewhere else.

There are several species of flour moths that can infest your home, but the one most frequently encountered is the Indian meal moth. This moth is small and colorful. The wings are gray toward the body and has dark bands near the tip.

They will feed on a variety of dried foods, including cereals, flour, cornmeal, crackers, cake mixes, pasta, dried pet foods, candy, powdered milk and many other foodstuffs.

The best control is to hang one Flour Moth Pheromone Trap in the area they are infesting. This will attract and catch the male moths and stop the breeding process. Completely clean the pantry where the foods are stored to get any larvae that mightbe crawling around. Then lightly dust the shelves with food-grade diatomaceous earth before putting the foods back.

There are more than a dozen beetles that will readily infest your home and feed on dried foods. Control for all of them is the same. They will feed on many dried foods including flour products, cereals, barley, rice, wheat, dried fruits, cornmealand many others. Control is exactly the same as for the flour moths except for the pheromone traps. Inspect all open dried foods and toss anything that is infested. Place all non-infested foods in sealed containers or refrigerate them. Completely clean the pantry where the foods are stored to get any larvae that may be crawling around. Then dust the shelves with food-grade diatomaceous earth before putting the foods back.

RICHARD FAGERLUND, A 40-YEAR VETERAN OF PEST MANAGEMENT, IS A COLUMNIST AND PEST MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT. REACH HIM WITH YOUR BUG QUESTIONS AT RICHARDFAGERLUND@YAHOO.COM.


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