Entomology (Study of Bugs)/Moth Larvae Control


Hello Dr. Saugstad -

I am currently helping a friend with a clothing moth infestation.  We planned on putting her clothes in 'space bags', or just plastic bags with the air squished out of them...these both pack them close together.  Does it matter if the clothes are packed loosely or tightly?  Would freezing them in a big chest freezer for a long time kill the larvae even though the clothes are squished together?

Your help is greatly appreciated, I have searched the web everywhere and cannot find an answer to this, some say airtight, some say loosely...very confused!

Thanks again,

Dear Cheryl - First off, my apologies for my delay in responding - I started to do so yesterday, then I got distracted and completely forgot that I had not competed the task! That aside, according to a University of California publication, clothes moths can be controlled by heat (above 120 degrees F for at least 30 minutes, including by laundering) or cold (below 18 degrees F for several days), see http://tinyurl.com/753pfmj for more detailed information. If you choose freezing, it should not matter how much the clothes are compressed/squished.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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