Clothes moths are not dangerous but can cause damage to your personal belongings such as clothing, carpets, and other materials made of natural fibers.
Two different clothes moths are common in North America — the webbing clothes moth Tineola bisselliella and the casemaking clothes moth Tinea pellionella.
Clothes moths are pests that can destroy fabric and other materials. The webbing clothes moths feed exclusively on animal fibers, especially wool, fur, silk, feathers, felt, and leather. The casemaking clothes moths also prefer animal fibers however they may also feed on plant-origin material such as tobacco, herbs, almond, etc.
There are two common types of clothes moths: casemaking and webbing. Casemaking clothes moths measure up between 10-14 mm (3/8-1/2 inch). They are range from buff/golden to brownish, with three dark spots on front wings.
The mature larvae are (3/8 inch) long and are white or cream except for their dark brown head capsule. They have one ocellus (eye) on each side of the head. The larva lives within a small portable, silken case which it carries while feeding and dies if removed from it.
Webbing clothes moths measure about 12mm (1/2 inch) wing-to-wing. They are commonly buff/golden with a tuft of reddish hairs on the top of their head.
Mature larvae are 12-13 mm (1/2 inch) long. The bodies are white or cream with a light brown head capsule. The larvae have no ocelli (eyes).
Unlike some other moths, clothes moths are seldom seen because they avoid light. They prefer dark, undisturbed areas such as closets, basements, and attics.
Clothes moths prefer damp and soiled conditions such as sweat on clothing. They can also be found in cracks or crevices near infested materials, carpets, and other materials made of natural fibers.
Clothes moths mate and deposit their eggs usually within 1-2 days of emergence from the pupae. Female clothes moths lay an average of 30 to 50 eggs and attach them to materials such as undershirt collars, carpets, drapes, and other upholstery.
The life cycle between the two clothes moths differs. Casemaking clothes moths have a developmental period of 46 to 116 days (egg to adult). A female moth will live three to eight days while a male will live three to five days. Webbing clothes moths have a developmental period of 50 to 90 days (egg to adult). The females do not live long (about 16 days), although the males of the webbing clothes moth can survive for about one month. The eggs hatch in 4-10 days in the summer but may take up to three or more weeks in the winter.
How do I know if I have an infestation of clothes moths?
Clothes moths tend to hide when disturbed, so you might not notice you have an infestation until after the larvae have already damaged your fabrics. Close examination of the objects will reveal silken webs the larvae have spun or damage to the fabric.
Silken tubes in the hidden portions of clothes, under collars, will be evident of clothes moths. Holes in material and fur hairs clipped at the base causing loose fur and exposed hide are also indicators of a clothes moth infestation.
In some situations, moths can be found in a crack or crevice away from the infested materials.
Can I do anything to prevent a clothes moth infestation?
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