What Are Clothing Moths?
WHAT ARE CLOTHING MOTHS?
One of the most unwelcome visitors is the clothing moth, due to the unfortunate holes we find in our favorite items of clothing.
There are many things that can be done to get rid of clothing moths, but the first step in treating a moth problem is correctly identifying the type of moths that you have. In this way, you can use the correct trap and eradication method to effectively treat the problem.
HOW TO IDENTIFY CLOTHING MOTHS
The types of moths most likely to infest clothing are the Case-Bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) and the Webbing Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella), known as the Common Clothes Moth.
Both moths are only about half of an inch long and appear to be yellow or grayish. Moths larger than that are not clothing moths, but rather a species that prefers to feed on plants in the home.
Top Left: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth – Larva
Top Right: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth – Adult
Bottom Left: Webbing Clothes Moth – Larva
Bottom Right: Webbing Clothes Moth – Adult
Both moths have narrow wings with small hairs at the tips, and small clusters of red hair on their heads. Webbing Moths are mainly all one color – an almost beige color – while Case-Making Moths are a bit darker and have dark specks on their wings.
It is more likely for you to see the signs of clothing moths, including holes in your clothing and other traces of the larvae, rather than seeing the adult moths themselves. This is because clothing moths are not fond of the light, and typically hide in dark corners that are unlikely to be disturbed. They are also not very good flyers, and tend to flutter around rather than flying straight.
If you see moths flying around, it is likely that they are Indian Meal Moths. These moths infest food such as grain, cat food, cereal, and rice. To learn more about Indian Meal Moths (also known as Pantry Moths), click here.
Clothing moths will mainly infest areas where clothing is stored for long periods of time, such as a bag of winter clothes kept in the back of your closet or attic during the summer. Make sure to check these places when looking for signs of clothing moths.
WHAT THEY EAT
Clothing moths are attracted to clothes or items which are made with materials such as feathers, silk, wool, leather, felt, and fur. This is because these materials contain a fibrous protein, called keratin, that the larvae feed on. They do not just live in the home and feed on clothes – they also live in the wild and feed on carcasses and other things that contain keratin.
CLOTHING MOTH LIFE-CYCLE
The adult clothing moths are not the cause of your damaged possessions; their larvae is. The adult moths do not actually eat, and are only adults long enough to mate and lay a batch of about 40-50 eggs. The adults lay the eggs near a food source so that upon hatching from the egg, the larvae can immediately begin feeding. The eggs will typically hatch between 4-10 days. Warmer temperatures speed up the hatching process, while colder temperatures slow the process down. After developing for one to three months (though sometimes upwards of two years), depending on the environment, the juvenile moths will be ready to pupate and develop into adults.
During the larval stage, the larvae of both moths create cases around themselves in which they move around in. The cases of the Webbing Moths use a webbing method, whereas the cases of the Case-Making Moths use the fibers of the fabrics they are feeding on to form a case that blends in with the clothing item they are on. When the larvae are ready to pupate and turn into adult moths, they spin cocoons. While the Webbing Moths stay on the item of clothing to pupate, the Case-Making Moths will typically climb off the item of clothing and into a safe crevice to spin their cocoons and pupate. Pupation can take anywhere from eight days to four months – once again, depending on the temperature of the environment.
GETTING RID OF CLOTHING MOTHS
If you have confirmed that you have a clothing moth infestation, there are important steps that you need to take to curtail their infiltration and prevent future issues. Read our blog on how to get rid of clothing moths.
Thankfully, there are several things you can do to get rid of an infestation and to prevent a future one from taking place, including using Dr. Killigan’s Premium Clothing Moth Traps. These traps are a brilliantly crafted and highly effective alternative to toxic pesticides. Happy eradicating!