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Do you store your winter clothes in the garage during summer? Did you find them riddled with holes, when you took them out this fall? You are not alone. Most of us end up in this situation. Your garage has been infested with moths. So how to get rid of moths from your garage?
You have to get rid of the moths from your garage, before they have a chance to get to your clothes and lay eggs. Or at least before the moth larvae start chomping on your favorite sweater.
You can get rid of moths from your garage by:
- Proper cleaning & storage of your clothes
- Killing them with insecticides or moth traps
- Repelling them with essential oil scents like cedar
- Preventing their entry using garage door screens
- Reducing their population outside your garage
Why is your Garage Infested with Moths?
Moths, unlike butterflies, fly in the night to gather nectar. They are attracted to bright lights. Many theories have been proposed as to why moths are attracted to bright lights but none have been proven conclusively.
So if your garage door is open and the lights are on, you are inadvertently inviting the moths to infest your garage.
Some will eventually find a way to get into your house as well.
If they are not clothes moths or pantry moths they may not be harmful. Nonetheless, they are still a nuisance. They will attract geckos (house lizards), while they are alive. If the gecko misses them they will still die, creating a mess on the floor and attracting scavengers like ants and flies.
How do you Store Winter Clothes in the Garage?
Clothes moths and Pantry moths need different approaches, as the food they attack are different.
Once the winter is over, you want to store away your winter clothes. To make space for your spring & summer outfits you may choose to store them in the garage over the summer.
Dry Clean before Storage of Winter Clothes
Irrespective of where you store them, get them dry cleaned before storage. The garments may look clean and you may be tempted to skip the dry cleaning part. Do not do that!
The winter garment, even if it has been sparingly used will have some invisible stains and certainly some perspiration on it. These oxidize and attract insects, particularly clothes moths.
Alternatively, Warm Water and Sun’s Heat also Kill Moth Larvae
If dry cleaning is not an option, wash them in warm water and dry them in medium heat or in the sun. This will let you get rid of the moths larvae by killing them and not letting them thrive in the garage.
(Of course check the washing & drying instructions on the garment first).
You can also Freeze Moth Larvae to Death
If you suspect that your clothes have already got the moth larvae, get rid of the moths larvae by freezing them to death. After placing your clothes in Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags place them in the freezer for 48 hours. The cold will kill them.
Always use Airtight Storage Bins or Bags
Use Spacesaver Premium Vacuum Storage Bags to store individual items or small groups of items.
The vacuum bags can then be kept in Ziploc Airtight Storage Bins.
Well, frankly speaking, Garage is not the place to store grains & cereals. They should be in the pantry, in airtight containers. If a box of cereal has been infested with pantry moth larvae, you must throw it away.
There is no way to salvage it. In fact you must check out all the grain & cereal boxes in your pantry and discard those that have been infested.
How to Kill all Moths in your Garage?
To get rid of moths from your garage you have to kill them by using an insecticide or by trapping them.
Use Insecticide Sprays to Kill Moths
Insecticide sprays kill many insects including moths. They use a chemical called pyrethrum. The best way is to fog the garage before retiring for the night.
Raid is an effective insect killer and will help you get rid of moths from your garage too! You can check it out on Amazon by clicking the link below.
- Kills: Asian Lady beetles, boxelder bugs, flies, fruit flies, hornets, mosquitoes, non-biting gnats, small flying Moths, wasps, yellow jackets
- Can be used as both an outdoor and indoor insect killer
Use Moth Traps and then let them Die
You can use Moth Traps to get rid of moths that have infested your garage. They are better than insecticide sprays as they are non-toxic.
Sometimes, you have no choice but to hang your sports gear in closets or cupboards in the garage. The Moth Traps come in very handy in such cases. Check out MothPrevention Powerful Moth Traps on Amazon.
It uses “Powerful German Pheromones” embedded in glue boards to attract & trap male moths and break the breeding cycle.
Zap the Moths
You can get rid of common pests like flies, mosquitoes, spiders, moths and roaches from your garage. I have a blog post on each of these pests that you can check out at https://garagemadesimple.com/category/space/
Alternatively you can try out Atomic Zapper. It is multipurpose.
I recommend the Atomic Zapper from BulbHead. This powerful device is a 2-in-1 ultrasonic pest repeller and bug zapper. It uses ultrasonic soundwaves to drive rodents crazy but doesn’t bother you and your pets. Atomic Zapper™’s blue light technology attracts and zaps flying insects. Order it by clicking on the link below:
What is a Natural Repellent for Moths?
There is a wide range of moth repellents that are available. They use a strong smell to keep the moths away from your clothes, carpets & pantry.
Some of the popular ones are:
- Cedar – Cedar is a natural and very effective way of repelling moths. The repelling property is attributed to the natural oil in cedar wood. Shop for CedarFresh at Amazon.
- Lavender – Lavender sprays or cotton wool dipped in lavender oil is a natural way to repel moths. Moths hate the smell that we love!
- Peppermint, Eucalyptus & Citronella – These essential oils work just like Lavender oil. You can even blend them if you like.
Moth balls – Naphthalene moth balls have been around for ages and continue to be used. The fumes kill moths, their eggs and larvae that eat natural fibers in clothes
However, moth balls are also toxic to humans & pets. It is best to avoid them if possible.
How to Keep Moths from Entering your Garage?
As with any other insect or pest, you need to ensure they can find nothing to eat in your garage. You also have to physically block their entry.
Keep the Garage Clean – Moths will not find Food
You must treat your garage as a part of the living space of your home. So you must apply all the practices of good housekeeping to your garage as well.
Basically this means that you must declutter, organize your garage storage and use airtight plastic storage containers as far as possible.
You must also regularly and frequently clean up your garage. A clean and well organized garage will give the moths fewer places to hide.
Lights & Screens
Moths are attracted to bright lights. They are more attracted to white light than yellow light (has to do with the wavelength of the light). So if possible use yellow light bulbs rather than white.
Try to keep the garage door closed when the garage indoor lights are on. If you want o keep the garage door open, that is OK. Just use a garage door screen. Find out more on my blog post How Are Retractable Garage Door Screens Helpful And Better?
How do you get Rid of Moths Outside?
The moths that infest your garage do not breed in your garage. They breed outside your garage. So you need to stop them from breeding around your garage. You can use:
Use outdoor moth traps near your garage door, patio etc. to control the moth population. Electrical outdoor mosquito & flying insect killers will usually trap & kill moths too.
Use this ZappLight – LED Light and Bug Zapper from Bulb Head. That way you will not need to worry about how to get rid of mosquitoes from your garage that much.
This bug zapper light bulb fits into any 110V/120V socket. There no need to buy special fittings. ZappLight® replaces your ordinary light bulbs. This bug zapper light was designed for indoor and outdoor use.
A few Basic Facts about Moths (Informative!)
Both Moths & Butterflies belong to the Order Lepidoptera, the second-largest order in the insect world. Of course we all love to see the colorful butterflies flitting from flower to flower in the warm sunlight. Moths are the ugly cousins that come out in the night.
Moths are loathsome too and not just for their looks. Moths, by themselves are pretty harmless, (unlike the flies and the mosquitoes that spread diseases). But we hate them for what they do to our beautiful cashmere sweaters, precious silk scarves and invaluable pure wool carpets.
Life Cycle of Moths
To be fair it’s not the moths who are making the holes. But their always hungry children, the larvae. Moths like butterflies, live their life in a cycle of four phases. The information below is specific to common clothes moth.
The female moth, after mating, lays 40-50 eggs over several weeks. In case of cloth moths, she will attach the eggs to the fibers of clothes using an adhesive. The eggs are so small they are not visible to the naked eye.
In 4-10 days the eggs hatch and larvae emerge.
The larvae make a protective home for themselves. The webmaking moths spin a web from which they can emerge to feed. The casemaking moths make a hard-shelled case which they can lug around as they forage for food.
Then the feeding frenzy begins and holes start appearing in your clothes. This can go on anywhere from 35 days to 2 ½ years. Once the larvae have grown to the full size they are ready to pupate.
The pupa (cocoon) stage may appear like hibernation from outside, but a lot is happening inside. The larva pretty much deconstructs itself and then creates a winged adult moth. The process is called histolysis.The process may take 1-2 weeks.
The sole purpose of the adult moth is to find a partner, mate and procreate. Adult moths do not eat but may drink nectar or other liquids. They live for just a couple of weeks as adults.
So, basically it is the larvae that do all the eating and all the harm.
The Large Variety of Moths
There are some 160,000 species of moths in the world, compared to 17,500 species of butterflies. In the United States, there are nearly 11,000 species of moths.Source: Smithsonian
Moths have evolved and specialized. For example the larvae of “Cherry leaf-cone caterpillar moth” will feed on cherry trees, while the larvae of “Kyoto moths” feed on Asian plum trees.
The species that concerns us, as homeowners, fall broadly into two categories.
- Clothes Moths – feed on keratin in clothes
- Pantry Moths – feed on grains
The bottom line is that there are over 160,000 species of moths in the world and each has its own characteristic.
The common clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella) will devour your precious silk scarf, but then the domestic silk moth (Bombyx mori) is fed on mulberry leaves and is the source of the silk in your scarf.
Adult moths live only to mate and reproduce. The larvae (caterpillars) do all the eating. When moths infest your garage & your house they bring destruction to your clothes, carpets & pantry. So, you have to get rid of the moths.You can do this by:
- Killing the eggs & the larvae by dry cleaning clothes, washing clothes in hot water or freezing clothes.
- Killing the moths with insecticide sprays or moth traps
- Using Moth Repellents, preferably essential oil based
- Creating Entry Barriers like garage door screens & outdoor traps
Thank you very much for reading the post. I do hope you found it informative and useful.