What to Do about Moths and Fur

Posted by Jon Jackson on


One of the things I am asked most is “how should I look after my furs?”

There are a few topics I always cover, including how they should be hung, that you shouldn’t drive your car in them, you shouldn’t lend them to anyone, you shouldn’t take them to a regular drycleaner and you must protect your furs from MOTHS! Over the past 20 years in this business, I have seen many fine furs devastated by moths. Garments once worth thousands of dollars reduced to worthless remnants.

This is a really important issue for those of us who have fur in our wardrobes. Most people know little about moths and what they do to our clothes. Most people assume that moths fly into their homes and then start chomping into their best clothes. This is not what really happens. Moths don’t even have mouths, so they can’t eat holes in anything. It’s their larvae that eat your clothes and furs.

There are two main ways for moths to infest your home. First, the moth flies into your home and finds a warm, dark place to lay her eggs. She is attracted to human sweat and scent and her preferred diet is animal hair, so your fur, wool, mohair and cashmere garments are prime food sources for her offspring. Placing moth repellents in your wardrobe is one of the main things you can do to prevent an infestation. There are moth balls and Naphthalene flakes, Moth papers, pest strips, Camphor and even ultrasonic devices to keep the moths away. Unfortunately, that is not the only way moths get into our homes.

The second way moths find their way into your place is when we inadvertently transfer their eggs on our shoes and clothing. Moth eggs are tiny and sticky, so they adhere to our footwear easily when we visit a place where there is an infestation. We arrive home and then unwittingly deposit the eggs in our carpets, wardrobes and pantries. That’s why people who are normally fastidious about home cleanliness are dumbfounded when they discover a moth infestation. “How did this happen when my home is practically hermetically sealed?” they ask. It doesn’t mean their house is unclean, it’s just that the life cycle of the moth is difficult to monitor and you need to be vigilant.

The most effective way to stay on top of these unintentional outbreaks is to regularly spray insecticide inside your wardrobes or where you hang your clothes. Using a flying insect spray, just aim 3 or 4 shots at the ceiling of the closet, then quickly close the door. This is enough to deal with any new arrivals before they hatch. We use and recommend RAID One Shot Odorless because the mist it provides is fine and dry and won’t mark or stain your clothes.

Each female moth lays approximately 400 eggs and dies soon afterwards, her life’s work completed. As they are nocturnal, they will lay them somewhere dark, so wardrobes are ideal. Moth eggs can last 4 to 5 years dormant until the circumstances are right for them to hatch. Another reason to spray regularly. Generally, the eggs hatch within 7 days and the resulting caterpillar larvae develop and grow by feeding on the clothes and furs their mother laid them in for 6 to 8 weeks. They then begin to pupate and spin their cocoon into the food source, your precious clothes and furs! This stage lasts another 1 to 2 weeks before the new moth emerges.

These adult moths as we know, do not feed, so only live for up to 2 weeks. However, they do find time to mate, thus repeating the life cycle all over again every 12 weeks. Trapped inside your wardrobe, the moths continue to reproduce unabated, creating an infestation. So, if you leave your closets shut for months without looking inside them, imagine how many generations of moths could be feeding on your valuable furs! If this doesn’t motivate you to be proactive about protecting your precious fur collections from moths, then nothing will.

Enjoying our furs is the best part about them, so we need to take care of them. My advice is to take out your furs and admire them each time you open the wardrobe. That way, you will be aware of any problems before they get out of hand. If you do find evidence of moths in your furs, remove them immediately. Place them in a plastic rubbish bag and spray the inside lining of the bag with insecticide before quickly closing it. Leave the garment in the bag for at least 24 hours to let the spray do its work. Of course, when using insecticide, wear gloves and a mask or respirator to protect yourself. You should then contact your local furrier and seek further advice. I usually ask the customer to bring the fur in for inspection so we can assess the damage and discuss the possible remedies. Depending on the degree of damage, there are several solutions available if your furrier is creative enough. In some cases, it is mild and after a de-mothing treatment and clean, the damage is quite undetectable. Most importantly with furs, it is best to seek professional advice first when things go wrong. In the meantime, go out and live your best fur life and never hesitate to wear them if you can.



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