A common household pest, carpet moths can be a costly problem causing serious and often irreversible damage to textiles, including rugs and other soft furnishings in the home.
Carpet moths often go unnoticed until the damage is caused, which is why it’s important that you know how to spot the signs and take preventative measures to avoid extensive damage to your rental property.
It is actually the carpet moth’s larvae that causes the destruction, feeding predominantly on keratin found in natural fibres such as wool. Potential signs of an issue might be damage to rugs and carpets where fibres have become loose or noticeable threadbare patches. You may notice very small caterpillars crawling under your carpet or tiny cocoons that blend with your carpet. Adult moths present an obvious sign, despite the fact they do not do the damage, they have the potential to lay up to 150 eggs at a time.
It is still possible to have an issue without noticing any signs. Moths prefer dark and undisturbed areas to lay their eggs. Additionally, the larvae take on the colour of the fibres they have eaten, making them very hard to spot. Common locations to find them include under furniture, along baseboards and in rooms that are infrequently used.
‘I had a situation with a tenant once, in which they noticed damage to the carpet when they were rearranging the children’s playroom. They thought they could treat this with moth balls and only notified me six months later after realising the moth balls strategy had failed. By then there was significant damage to their clothing and the entrance hall carpet,’ says Marshall White property manager, Jade Wilson.
Depending on the situation, as the tenant, you could be liable to cover the cost of any damages, which is why it is vital to notify your property manager of any concerns. Your Marshall White property manager will then organise a pest control inspection.
‘Under the Residential Tenancies Act, the tenant is required to advise their landlord or property manager of any issues that may cause damage to the property. This includes pests such as carpet moth and termites. Like termites though, carpet moth can be doing damage to the property without the occupants being aware,’ says Marshall White business development manager, Neil Harris.
In order to prevent a future issue, it’s important to ensure your home is kept clean and you make a habit of moving furniture around.
‘Carpet moths tend to like places that are dark, which can make them hard to identify. They like store rooms that are rarely accessed that may have carpet in them, as well as low furniture such as beds, drawers and sideboards that go all the way to the floor but have a hollow space just above the carpet surface where they will lay their larvae which will eventually eat away the plie of the carpet. Storing rolled up rugs or carpet off cuts can also attract carpet moth, so they should be checked regularly,’ says Neil.
Moths are also attracted to moisture in spills and perspiration, as well as food traces. Ensuring you vacuum thoroughly around the edges of each room and under furniture is imperative, as moths will thrive in undisturbed areas.
‘It is important to minimise clutter and to vacuum regularly as this can remove the larvae from the carpet. Be aware of any changes to the look of the carpet – if you notice any strange patches or a white residue on the carpet this could be from the month larvae. Like most maintenance items, if you get on to it quickly you can more easily prevent devastating damage,’ says Neil.
The best way to treat the problem is to get a professional carpet cleaner in to steam clean the carpet and upholstery or employing pest control services.
‘The tenant should notify their property manager immediately if they notice any damage so we can take action accordingly and prevent any further issues. We will arrange for fumigation services with pest control and will inform the landlord,’ says Jade.
If you need any further assistance or have any questions, please contact our Marshall White Property Management Team (03) 9822 8711.