Moth traps: how and when to set up pheromone traps


I grew up on a small, organic family farm and after a gap year spent working on an American ranch, I started studying agricultural science. Soil, organic farming practices, and plant science are what I am most drawn to. At home, when I'm not in our garden, you can find me in the kitchen, cooking and baking with our harvested fruits and vegetables.

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Having to deal with moths in the home is not nice for anyone. Luckily, moth traps can help detect the presence of moths at an early stage to avoid a bad infestation and keep the damage to a minimum.

pheromone trap sheet in closet
Pheromone traps help to monitor and detect moth infestations [Photo: sophiecat/]

There are several ways clothes moths and food moths get into our homes. They can enter through windows or via dried food from the supermarket. Once inside, they find ideal living conditions, which leads to rapid reproduction. Pheromone traps provide an easy method of detecting and monitoring the presence of moths at an early stage. The traps contain lures for male moths, which then stick to the traps. If a moth infestation is detected in good time, severe damage can usually be prevented by taking appropriate measures.

How do moth traps work?

Moth traps are used to detect and monitor a moth infestation early on. They contain a sticky glue board impregnated with sex attractants called pheromones, which are normally emitted by females to attract a mate. The traps are used to attract the male moths, which then stick to the trap. This makes it easy to detect the presence of a pest and determine whether your wardrobe or pantry has been infested with moths. Pheromone traps have an effect on various moth species and can be used for food moths such as the Indian meal moth as well as clothes moths. However, as they only work for male moths in the immediate area, pheromone traps cannot be used to eliminate a moth infestation entirely. All it takes is for a single male moth not to fall into the trap and fertilise a few females – leaving you with around 250 eggs, depending on the species.

Tip: Some manufacturers refer to moth hangers containing insecticides as moth traps to make them sound less toxic. “Real” moth traps, however, always contain pheromones instead of insecticides. Make sure to check the label carefully when buying moth traps, so you do not end up with unwanted toxins in your home.

moths in food
In nature, pheromones draw female and male moths together [Photo: Tomasz Klejdysz/]

Setting up moth traps

Moth traps are easy to set up and can be used all year round. Acting fast is key to successfully combating a moth infestation, so make sure to set the traps up as soon as you see the first moths or signs of them in your home, such as webs in food or holes in clothes or carpets. It is important to bear in mind that the effect of the traps wears off over time, which means they need to be replaced approximately every six weeks. Most pheromone traps are entirely free from insecticides and toxins, making them safe for both humans and animals.

Pheromone traps and ichneumon wasps: It is safe and even recommended to use moth traps and ichneumon wasps at the same time. Pheromone traps are only used to monitor an infestation, whereas ichneumon wasps parasitise the moths’ eggs, preventing reproduction. The traps then help to show the ichneumon wasps’ progress. However, make sure to keep a minimal distance of 1.5 m between the traps and the wasp dispensers to prevent the wasps from accidentally getting stuck.

moths on pheromone sticky trap
Moth traps can be used indoors year-round [Photo: sophiecat/]

Seting up pantry moth traps

If you suspect an infestation of food moths, such as the Indian meal moth or Mediterranean flour moth, it is a good idea to place traps in all cupboards, drawers and shelves that may be affected. Should you choose our Plantura Pantry Moth Traps, we will send six handy traps right to your doorstep.

Our pheromone traps have a sticky layer on both sides. One side is for easily attaching the traps to the inside of cabinets or drawers and the other side contains the pheromones which attract the food moths. As the traps do not contain any hazardous substances, they are safe to use in the kitchen. They are activated as soon as the protective film over the layer impregnated with pheromones is removed. After that, the traps release sex attractants to lure male moths. Check the traps about once a week. If you have a severe moth infestation, it may be necessary to replace the traps before the end of their effective period, so that moths can continue to stick to the traps.

If about 10 moths stick to the trap within a week, it is very unlikely that they just happened to fly in through the window. Find our detailed guide on how to get rid of them in our article on food moths.

moth larvae in food container
If there are moths in your food, you want to get rid of them as quickly as possible [Photo: Jsep/]

Seting up clothes moth traps

The use of pheromone traps on common clothes moths and case-bearing clothes moths is similar. Hang our Plantura Clothes Moth Traps in a dark, draft-free location and make sure they are not in close proximity to lamps, doors or windows. When dealing with moths in the wardrobe, it is best to apply one trap per wardrobe compartment containing clothes made from natural fibres, such as wool. For furniture and carpets, the rule of thumb is one trap per room. Here, the trap is also activated as soon as the protective film covering the pheromones is removed. Check the traps every week and replace them before their expiry date if you have a severe moth infestation.

Since the use of pheromone traps is only a monitoring method, further steps are required to get rid of a moth infestation entirely – for example with the help of ichneumon wasps. For more tips, see our article on getting rid of clothes moths.