James Miller of Trécé Inc shares his tips on the best way to deal with fabric pests in residential accounts.

You find random holes in a client’s clothing and little cocoons on the walls of their wardrobe. How do you tackle the problem? As always, IPM is the way to go.

Integrated Pest Management (IPM) applies to all pests, including those feeding on our clothes, rugs, museum artefacts, and taxidermy items. Applying the same principles used for other insects following an IPM program is crucial – namely, identification of the insect, understanding its biology and knowing the risks associated from its presence. This knowledge is essential for achieving both prevention and control.

The most commonly encountered species of so-called ‘fabric pests’ are the casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella), webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella), black carpet beetle (Attagenus unicolor) and variegated carpet beetle (Anthrenus verbasci). The larval feeding habits are the cause of damage to your client’s items, while it is the adult insects that most pest managers are trying to find, in order to make an identification.

These pests are looking for items high in keratin, which is a structural protein fibre found in wool, fur, leather, bones, feathers, claws, nails, silk, etc. These pests will even feed on and damage non-natural fibres such polyester and synthetics while searching for keratin-rich items.

After initial identification, it is best to thoroughly inspect any susceptible items for active infestation (larvae, pupae, adults, damage, webbing) and remove or isolate any findings. Treatment of the items varies based on composition, but many items can be placed in black plastic bags in the sun for a couple of hours to kill any insects present. Damaged items that cannot be repaired can be simply thrown out. Treatment of the immediate surroundings with a product labeled for such use may also prove prudent to control any insects that may have been missed and prevent re-infestation.

Pheromone-based monitoring systems should be installed when a risk assessment conducted at your client’s premises suggest they could be at risk of re-infestation. The use of pheromone-based monitoring systems creates an ‘early warning system’ that allows for rapid corrective action to be taken upon detection of the pest.

Trécé has launched new combination and pre-baited pheromone monitoring products that effectively target the key fabric pests, providing an effective and efficient monitoring system. Its range of adhesive traps uses quality pheromones specific to the target pests. The insects are attracted to the pheromones released by the lure contained within the unit, then become trapped by the adhesive. Pest managers can easily detect the presence of fabric and stored product pests by regularly checking the unit. Monitoring should take place on a set schedule – quarterly is a good place to start.

The Storgard Quick Change Webbing Clothes Moth/Case Making Clothes Moth Combi Kit (six pack of traps) is available with Storgard II or Storgard III adhesive traps and comes with the Combi lure pre-installed (main picture, above). Trécé has combined the quality pheromones for the webbing and casemaking clothes moths in its lures so that pest management professionals can monitor both pest species without the need to use two different products. Unlike light traps, Storgard products are species-specific and are sensitive to low populations.

Storgard clothes moth trap
Storgard II Quick Change Kit

These fabric insects, due to the items they infest, are not easy to combat; each year we receive an increasing number of technical calls about appropriate control methods. It’s definitely worth documenting an approved procedure for the prevention and treatment of fabric pests – a client who has suffered damage will certainly appreciate the benefit of a preventative program. So, study the insect’s biology and seek professional guidance on control measures. A pheromone monitoring program will provide bene ts to clients and may give you a competitive edge.

More information on clothes moths.

James Miller, Market Manager, Trécé, Inc.

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