Monster Battle: 4 Ways to Combat A Wool Moth Invasion

Moth—the word strikes fear in the hearts of fiber lovers everywhere. Spying the telltale signs of holes in a sweater or hearing the dreaded rattle in a bag of fleece is tantamount to Mothra descending on Tokyo in the 1961 Japanese film of the same name—there will be screams of horror.

Mothra the giant moth soars menacingly over a Tokyo in a still from the Japanese film, 'Mothra,' directed by Ishiro Honda. 1961. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

Mothra the giant moth soars menacingly over a Tokyo in a still from the Japanese film, ‘Mothra,’ directed by Ishiro Honda. 1961. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images).

Not to fear! Guarding your stash from a wool moth invasion doesn’t have to be a monstrous battle. In the Spin Off Winter 2014 article “Moths: A Flock of Sheep, a Murder of Crows, a Fluttering of Moths,” Allison Judge quells the terror with 4 ways to combat wool moths.

1. Pheromone Traps

Sticky traps emit female moth pheromones to lure males and disrupt the cycle of life. Allison says that the traps can give you a good idea of the extent of the infestation. The traps are a safe option when food, children, or curious pets are present.

Kleidermotte (Tineola bisselliella). 2004. (Photo by Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images).

Kleidermotte (Tineola bisselliella). 2004. (Photo by Schellhorn/ullstein bild via Getty Images).

2. Freezing

Subject your infected fiber stash to a temporary deep freeze. Temperatures of 0ºF and below kill off the adult moths and larvae. As Allison explains: “Not all eggs may be killed, so remove the items from the freezer for a few days and then return them to the freezer; this will give eggs the chance to hatch and the larvae to emerge and then freeze again before more damage is done.”

3. Light

Shed direct sunlight on the situation. Wool-loving moths are not drawn to the light—they avoid it. Yet be careful that your dyed fiber and yarn doesn’t fade. Allison cautions, “You run the risk of light damage to fibers and nonlight fast dyes. I was careful to turn the items often and to leave them outside for just a few hours in the morning.” Give the fiber or sweater a hearty shake before returning it to storage.

4. Aroma Therapy

Although not a remedy for a moth infestation, aromatics such as cedar and lavender discourage the insects from settling into your stash in the first place. The only catch, warns Allison, is to regularly replace the aromatics, as their power diminishes with age.

Unfortunately, sometimes trashing the infested fiber is necessary. Allison can relate to the heartbreak. “Sadly, I have thrown out a tall trash can full of very expensive yarn and fiber—twice. Sometimes that is the only solution. Keeping it would have been a threat to the remainder of my fiber.”

May your stash always remain pest-free!

Featured Image: Tineola bisselliella, the webbing clothes moth. ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM/ZAGORSKID

Find more great spinning tips in these 2014 issues of Spin Off!



  1. Melissa M at 8:09 am May 1, 2017

    Screams of horror is right!

    Heat is another weapon in the fight. Here in California’s Central Valley, a car parked in the sun in the summer can raise temperatures enough to kill moths.

  2. Tracy S at 9:37 am May 1, 2017

    You can also use dry ice and a very heavy plastic bag to kill moths in wool, both fleeces and clothes. (Because who can fit a fleece in their freezer? What do you do with the food?!) It kills the moths by producing CO2 which starves them of oxygen, not cold. The hardest part is finding a place to buy dry ice. (Call welding supply places or ask your fisherman friends.) I bought the bags from an industrial safety supply place. Be sure to use safety precautions such as wearing heavy leather work gloves and not breathing the CO2 fumes! (I just held my breath for a few seconds.) I have used this method before and it killed 100% of the moths. as described here by After you do this once, you will have learned your lesson and never store dirty fleeces for any period of time!

    “Dry Ice Fumigation
    Household items infested with clothes moths that cannot be washed or disinfested by other means, can be fumigated using dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide). Place the item in a 30-gallon heavy duty plastic bag (4 mil) along with a one-half to 1 pound piece of dry ice. Do not let dry ice touch your skin! Loosely seal the bag and allow the dry ice to completely vaporize. After the dry ice is gone, seal the bag tightly and let it sit for another 3 to 4 days. Proper fumigation will kill all life stages.”

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