Seed moths - How to fight them

We recommend flour moth traps for the prevention and control of seed moths:

Facts about seed moths

Occurrence: Seed moth (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) are less common than clothes moth and fur mothbut just as common as the two-colored seed moths. They are generally more common in summer than in winter.

Food: Seed moths are particularly known for their tendency to infest textiles and are therefore often categorized as clothes mothbut they can feed on almost all plant materials as well as some animal materials. However, it's the seed moth caterpillars that are the real pests as they are the only ones that eat the materials.

CombatSeed moths can only thrive in environments that are sufficiently moist. Therefore, control and prevention is all about reducing damp areas in the home and keeping textiles, food, etc. dry and enclosed. Read more about control below.


10 tips to combat seed moths

We have deliberately not included any chemical insecticides in our list below as we do not recommend this for moth control - read more about this in our article on use of sprays against moths.

1. Storage: Clothing made from natural textiles (wool, fur, etc.) should be stored in sealed plastic bags or bags made from artificial fabric (e.g. polyethylene). This reduces the seed moths' access to the textiles, which automatically reduces their viability. It is a good idea to store the sealed garment bags in tightly closed cupboards or drawers.

2. Moth repellentsAncient folk remedies as well as modern pest control dictate that strongly scented natural materials such as lavender and cedarwood are highly effective against seed moths. In recent years, it has been discovered that these fragrances can be combined with other scents such as tea tree, peppermint, neem, geranium and others for optimal effectiveness. Although moth bags are usually only used against clothes moths (i.e. fur moths and clothes moths), they also have some effect against seed moths. In addition, there are flour moth traps that are effective in preventing and controlling seed moths and other food moths. We recommend The flour moth trap and moth bags below:


3. Moisture: Because seed moth larvae can only develop in damp environments, it is very important to ensure that they cannot thrive in damp areas of the home. This includes removing all textiles in wet rooms, kitchens, utility rooms, basements, attics, etc. and minimizing moisture to the extent possible in these areas. Similarly, food should be stored in a dry and closed place to prevent the larvae from developing. If you've had seed moths in food, don't clean the cupboards with water, but with a vacuum cleaner and a dry cloth. You should also consider where the moths are coming from; it could be the store, warehouse, manufacturer, neighbor or your own home! Food moths should always be controlled where they originate.

4. Kill adult seed mothsIt sounds simplistic, but it's effective and you should always kill any seed moths you come across (swat them with a fly swatter, newspaper, etc.). This will automatically reduce the population of seed moths in your home, which is an essential part of the control process.

5. Freezing in the freezer: Like other moths, seed moths can be killed by freezing. In practice, this can be done by freezing clothes, blankets, etc. in a large freezer such as a chest freezer. Here the textiles should remain for 2 days at -18 degrees (or colder).

6. Freezing outdoors: If it's winter and freezing, you can also put your furniture, carpets, etc. outside overnight. Bring the furniture in during the day and put it out again in the evening. Repeat the process for 3-4 nights. Here, the alternation between cold and heat kills the moths and the biggest advantage of this method is that it also kills the larvae.

7. Bird nestsBecause seed moths are often found in bird nests, you should remove old bird nests near your home if seed moths are a recurring problem. Remember that bird nests can also be found in attics and basements. This is, of course, mostly a problem for homeowners with gardens and on agricultural properties.

8. cleaningClean your home and be especially thorough when vacuuming carpets (and especially carpet edges, folds, seams, etc. where dirt and debris collect). Also make sure to empty all cupboards, drawers, etc. of clothes and other textiles and clean them. You can use the moth bags described earlier in this article. Also, remember to air out your home and ensure proper ventilation in general.  

9. Attic and basement roomsRemove all natural textiles from attics and basements. Typical examples include discarded clothing, curtains, blankets, duvets or bedding, etc. Also, make sure attics and basements are dry, as moisture in these areas significantly increases the risk of seed moths.

10. Persistent problems: Recurring or persistent seed moth problems are typically due to the difficulty in eradicating the seed moth eggs. In practice, this can only be done with the professional help of an exterminator. This also applies to very heavy seed moth infestations. If you find seed moths in food, you should also always make sure to find out where they are coming from; be it the store, warehouse, manufacturer, neighbor or your own home! Food moths should always be controlled where they originate.


Which textiles are at risk?

It is the seed moth larvae that are the real pests because they are the ones that cause damage to the textiles (e.g. holes in clothes, destruction of fur clothing, etc.)

The larvae feed on natural textiles such as wool, fur, feathers etc. but can also feed on dirt and debris on other textiles. This means that the larvae can also damage other textiles such as cotton, silk, polyester etc. to get to the dirt, wool etc.

Similarly, mixed textiles can also be attacked (e.g. half cotton/half wool).


Seed moth larvae

Seed moth larvae are 0.6 - 2 cm long with whitish bodies, dark brown heads and slightly darker mouthparts.

They are almost omnivorous, but in a home they feed mostly on organic materials such as wool, fur, seeds, grains, cereals, cork, etc. Around the home, they can also feed on Dried plants and debris such as bird nests.

They feed mainly on textiles and plant materials, but can also eat certain animal materials such as leather, animal feed, dead insects, etc. Often it's just a matter of the material being moist enough and the environment being sufficiently humid.

The larvae thrive indoors, but can also survive outdoors. However, frost and fluctuating temperatures around freezing will kill them. Some larvae live up to 2 years.

It should be emphasized that humidity is a very important element in the development of seed moth larvae and that they cannot reach the adult stage if their environment is too dry. Therefore, controlling humid areas in the home is an important element in the fight against seed moths.

You can read more about moth larvae on this page.


Description of the seed mill

The adult seed moth is 0.8 - 1.5 cm long and has a wingspan of 1.6 - 2.6 cm.

It has distinctive golden or bronze-colored wings with black spots, which are usually folded along the back so that they lie flat.

Seed moths can sometimes be confused with fur mothwhich only have 3 black or dark spots on each wing (where seed moths have several). However, be aware that fur moths can lose their spots. The wingspan of seed moths is also larger than that of fur moths.

Seed moths can be recognized by their bronze-colored, black-spotted wings  

Seed moths can live both indoors and outdoors and are often found in bird nests. Indoors, they most often appear at nightfall. They also tend to run rather than fly when you spot them.


Life cycle

  • The adult seed moths lay eggs around the larvae's future food source (e.g. one in a carpet, clothing, etc.)
  • Eggs hatch 2-4 weeks later depending on temperature and humidity
  • Seed moth larvae begin to feed on their food source and form a silk-like cocoon in the food source itself
  • Generally, the larvae do not move (this usually only happens if they run out of food)
  • The larvae close themselves inside their cocoons and now enter the pupal stage, where they can remain for a very long time - but under favorable conditions, the larvae emerge as full-grown seed moths after 2 - 8 weeks

Under the right circumstances, an adult seed moth can lay 500-600 eggs in its lifetime. You can read more about the life cycle of the frog moth here and general about moth life cycles here.


The history of the seed mill

Seed moths originated in Asia and spread to other continents (including Europe) in the 1840s. Today, seed moths are found all over the globe, with the exception of the very cold Arctic regions.

In the past, the problem of seed moths and other clothes moths was much bigger than it is today. This is mainly due to the fact that the clothing industry today uses far more artificial textiles than before. In addition, our knowledge of seed moth prevention and control is now much more comprehensive and the problem is therefore easier to deal with.