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6 Insects that love to eat our clothes

Who knew that there are so many different types of insects that can destroy our beloved clothing/fabrics at home?

Today, I am going to explain what they like and the type of damage to look out for.

If you think you may have an issue with any of the insects I mention below, it is imperative you deal with them as soon as possible.

The two main types of insect that cause serious damage to textiles in the UK are the Carpet Beatles and Clothes Moths.

Carpet Beetles

The female carpet beetle lays her soft white eggs in hidden places such as your clothing, cracks in the flooring or furniture, also your carpets.

Her eggs hatch between 8-15 days, this can be even quicker in the warmer months. One female ordinarily produces four generations in just one year!!

However, it is the larvae that eat holes in your clothes, not the adults. The larvae devour the natural fibres, such as wool, mohair fur and feathers.

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Clothes moth

The adult female moth can lay hundreds of soft white eggs that stick well to most fabrics.

The larvae have a flattened case around ¼ to ½ an inch. The adult moths are rarely seen.

The larvae feed on your lovely clothing, particularly wool, fur soiled fabrics and hair for around 4-5 weeks. They cut small holes in your fabric until nice and full. Then spin a case to emerge in 2 ½ weeks as a fully grown moth.

It is very important to act fast once you have spotted a moth egg, as they can produce many generations in just one year.

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The cockroach is a very damaging pest to find in your home. It can damage your clothing and your health.

Their droppings can cause asthma or disease. Plus, the droppings can stain your clothing or any fabrics that they encounter.

They are attracted to bodily fluids, perspiration, food or drink spillage.

While they are eating away at any of these mentioned stains, they can cut holes into the fibres and weaken them so holes will appear.

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Crickets are a more uncommon pest but still can cause problems if they come into contact with your clothing.

They prefer bodily fluids, perspiration, food or drink stains, also very attracted to starched items.

The crickets feast on the remaining stains, they cut the threads of the fabric. It is not very easy to spot until you have washed or worn your garment.


These are wingless insects; they are about ¼ to ½ inches. They are completely silver carrot-shaped.

Silverfish love the dark, mostly found in cooler areas around 20 degrees Celsius.

These pests like to stay close to a food source and come out at night.

They particularly like bodily fluids, perspiration, or food stains on natural fibres such as silk and cotton. They are also a favourite, causing irregular holes in your items.


Firebrats are relatives to the Silverfish; these are also ¼ to ½ inches long, they have a brown coat and can look mottled silver.

These are also active at night, but the firebrat prefers a warm condition to live in around 32 degrees Celsius.

Again, once they find their food source, they stay close to it. They particularly like linen, cotton or rayon, plus any fabrics that are starched.

Any food or sugar-based stains are extremely attractive to them.

You can identify the damage as irregular, usually following the outline of the stain.

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What To Do In Case of An Infestation

Once you can see that some insects have infested your home, you need to remove any items that have been damaged. Wash or dry clean each item as manufacturer’s instructions allow. Be really careful to also isolate the infested garments so there's no contamination in other parts of your home.

You are welcome to come and see us in Cambridge and Trumpington if you need any advice on how to stop insects eating your clothes.


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