There are two species of clothes moths that commonly infest premises: the Casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella), and the Webbing clothes moth (Tineola bisselliella).
During the larval stage of the moth’s lifecycle, as a caterpillar, the insect does the actual feeding. Clothes moths feed on all kinds of dry materials of animal origin including woollens, mohair, hair, bristles, fur and feathers and dead insects. Holes are chewed in woollens or threadbare spots caused where fibres are chewed in carpeting.
Items that may be attacked include clothing, blankets, comforters, rugs, carpets, drapes, pillows, hair mattresses, brushes, upholstery, furs, piano felts or other natural or synthetic fabrics mixed with wool. Silken feeding tubes or hard protective cases are often found on infested fabrics.
Mothes are often found in dark places. They dislike sunlight and are not attracted to artificial light. They may be seen fluttering about in darkened corners or at the edge of a circle of light. When the items on which they are resting are moved, they either run quickly for cover or fly to a darker area to conceal themselves.
Infestations often start when woollens are improperly stored in dark places and left undisturbed for long periods of time. The larvae are white with brown to black heads and are also about 1/2 inch long. The Case making clothes moth larvae spin a protective case out of silk and material fibres, often blending in with the fabric so damage is not noticed until a bare spot or hole is produced. The Webbing clothes moth spins silk over the fibres it is feeding on but does not form a case around itself until ready to enter the pupa (resting stage).
There are several steps that can be taken to protect clothing and furnishings against damage by clothes moths:
Clothes moths undergo complete metamorphosis – egg, larva, pupa and adult. Female clothes moths deposit soft white eggs in clothing and household furnishings. A single female may deposit from 100 to 300 eggs. Eggs hatch in one to two weeks during the summer or in heated rooms, while in unheated rooms hatching may take longer. After leaving the eggs, the tiny larvae begin feeding and soon begin to spin some silk, either for a case or as webbing over the fabric. The amount of time it takes for a larva to mature varies greatly, from about 40 to over 200 days. The pupa stage is formed in the larval feeding area and it usually takes between 1 and 4 weeks to hatch. Adults emerge from the pupae mate and begin the cycle again.