Clothes Moth

The Clothes Moth, both the Webbing Clothes Moth and its numerous cousins, can cause serious damage to your wardrobe, bedrooms, and living rooms. 

The common or webbing clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella is an aggressive and persistent pest that can be present around the world, causing problems all the year round. There are a number of species of moth that can attack and damage your clothes, carpets, textiles, upholstery and taxidermy. A new species has migrated across the United Kingdom, causing damage to national heritage sites, hotels, as well as private residences. The pale backed clothes moth, Monopis crocicapitella, was detected via clothes moth pheromone traps, challenging Russell IPM to develop a pheromone mix especially for that species.

Clothes Moth

The common clothes moth measures only 5–8 mm – and scuttles around, which makes it easy to catch by hand. The moths start flying when it’s warm, but avoid light and hide in dark areas, laying batches of eggs on wool, fur, feathers and skins. This makes them difficult to eradicate and control. The eggs of Tineola bisselliella are laid in sheltered situations, preferably near food, without being attached to their support. One female lays from 50 to 90 eggs. The young larvae at once begin feeding and prepare tube-like webs from the fibres or hairs of the material at their disposal. When the larvae moult, they construct oval-shaped cocoons, where pupation takes place, usually lasting 18 or 19 days.
The adults mate on emerging, and have an average life of 30 days. The common clothes moth has a 10-15 mm wingspan, upper forewing is a pale shiny golden colour with reddish tufts of hair on the head.

In contrast, the new invader, Monopis crocicapitella, is darker in colour and has a distinct cream stripe across its back. These moths were originally found in birds’ nest, but have recently spread into museums and homes.

Nature of Damage

The damage is done not by the flying moth, but by the larvae. Moths are very shy of light and nearly impossible to spot. However, their larvae feed on natural fibers found in clothes, carpets, furniture upholstery, grains and flour, and even human hair. The larvae are voracious and can leave holes and “burn marks” in your homes, which is why prevention via monitoring is tantamount to preserving your garments.