Clothes Moths


  • Scientific name: Tineidae
  • Size: Varies
  • Color: Pale tan to buff and light brown to gray
  • Shape: Elongated triangular shaped head and wings when folded
  • Found in: Throughout the United States

General Overview
There are several different species of moths that are classified as “clothing moths.” Most of them are not considered important economic pests, however some species have a significant impact on the clothing industry. Cloths moths are native to the Eurasia area but have been introduced to the rest of the world through the expanding system of exports. Cloths moths feed on organic cloth, but can cause damage to synthetic cloths as well. There are two prominent species of clothing moths: the webbing clothes moth and the casemaking cloths moth.
Signs of Infestation
Cloths moths generally infest undisturbed stored clothes and fabric. Unlike grain moths, clothing moths are not strong fliers and the tell-tell sign of a moth infestation -moths near lights within the home- are not present. Most at risk are organic fabrics and those that stay in cool, dark areas for long periods of time. A sign of possible infestation are irregular spots in formally pristine clothing and fully eaten away holes. Infestations may be brought in with older clothing, bird and animal nests as well as animal carcasses. The clothes moth leaves behind silken webbing when they feed, which are a good indication that you have an infestation.
Clothes moths are most often found in dark, cool spaces. They prefer to remain undisturbed and will hide when their hiding spot is discovered. They prefer to run instead of flying when escaping predators, so if your cloths and fabrics are stored in an area that is full of cracks, nooks and hard to reach areas, the cloths moth will be able to avoid detection for quite a while. The clothes moth can flourish in a drier environment and therefore it’s not just enough to store clothing in a dry place.
Eating habits
Only the larval form of the clothes moth actually feeds. The adults do not feed on fabrics. Cloths moths prefer organic, natural fibers. Fabrics at risk are wools, cotton, hemp, fur, silk and feathers. Cloths moth larvae construct silk webs to hide behind and within while they feed. Some types of cloths moths also weave fibers from their food into their webs to provide a camouflage. It makes them even more difficult to detect. Cloths moths can also feed on the lint from clothing as well, which makes the laundry room another area that can perpetuate the cycle of infestation.
Treatment and Prevention
The cloths moth is best prevented by storing unused clothes in air tight bins. By frequent washing and care of clothing, the homeowner can keep an eye out for possible signs of infestation and catch a population very near the beginning. Storage of aromatic, natural repellents such as ceder and lavender is recommended along with the classic remedy of mothballs. Vacuuming wall hangings and carpeting regularly will also help control clothes moths.

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