Webbing Clothes Moths
- Scientific name: Tineola bisselliella
- Size: ½ inch
- Color: Buff to dark tan
- Shape: An elongated, thin triangle when wings are closed
- Found in: Widespread over the United States
The webbing cloths moth is the most common type of cloths moth in the United States. Like all cloths moths, the webbing cloths moth is very shy of light and prefers to crawl rather than fly. The webbing cloths moth has been spread from it’s originating areas of Eurasia by the clothing trade. This species of moth accounts for the bulk of economic damage done by cloths moths.
Signs of Infestation
The larval form of the webbing cloths moth is a creamy white caterpillar that can grow up to half an inch in length. It is not as easy as it might seem to spot the larvae as it might seem. The webbing cloths moth larvae spin silk webbing to protect and hide themselves. Often it is the sight of these webs that are the main indicator of an infestation rather than spotting the caterpillar its self. The webbing cloths moth uses the silk mats that they weave as a blind and will emerge only at night or if conditions are dark enough for them to feel safe acquiring food. Another sign of infestation can also be the remains of dead adult moths. At times you may be able to see the larval form of the webbing cloths moth migrating away from one area of infestation to another.
The webbing cloths moth is partial to undisturbed areas where the larvae can remain undisturbed while they feed. They prefer dark areas such as attics, basements and storage cabinets where they can feed without interference. Webbing cloths moths tend to live in the corners, cuff or folds of fabrics and garments where they are not often easily discovered with anything but a detailed study. While they do prefer remote, quiet areas, these pest have also been known to feed on hanging tapestries and the corners of rugs away from the well trafficked areas.
The webbing cloths moth feed on organic fibers such as wool, hair, silk, feathers, hemp, cotton and fur. They can also get feed on produce such as vegetable matter and fruit as well as fabric. The adult moths do not contribute to the damages because they, once pupated, do not retain the ability to feed as their mouth parts are atrophied. The adult moths’ sole responsibility once pupated is to reproduce, since they gain all of their nourishment as larvae. The larvae also can weave bits of their food into the silk mats and tunnels they construct to protect themselves as a means of camouflaging themselves.
Treatment and Prevention
The best treatment for the webbing cloths moth is prevention. Storing fabrics, clothing and other pieces of organic fabric materials in air-tight bins is a start. You can also store aromatic repellents such as cedar, lavender and mothballs with your fabrics to prevent infestation. Vacuuming unstored but not regularly trafficked woolen carpets or tapestries will also help to prevent damage.