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Taxonomy terms

Clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella and Tinea spp.)

Found across Australia and worldwide

Larvae:

Larvae are almost invisible when they hatch (1 mm long) but as they grow they become more visible – a white caterpillar-like larvae with a brown head.

Webbing clothes moth larvae often hide underneath webbing as they feed.

Case making clothes moths build a case of silk which they hide in and drag around whether they feed. It gets covered in fibres and dropping which can make it difficult to see.

Adults:

Webbing clothes moth: A small moth up to 7 mm long. Pale beige, slightly shiny forwings, which are folded over grey rear wing at rest.

Case making clothes moths: Small moths up to 7 mm long. Silvery grey / brown moth, sometimes with feint dark coloured spots.

Adult moths live for a bit over a month and the females will lay between 50-100 eggs in their life-time.


The eggs will hatch 4-10 days later depending on the temperature.


The larvae move through between 5 – 45 instars over a period of between 1 month and 2 years, depending on food availability and temperature.


The larvae form a cocoon when ready to pupate and emerge as adults between 10-50 days later.

Clothes moths feed on animal fibres such as wool, fur, silk, feathers and leather, for the keratin (protein) they contain.

Damage: They will chew irregular holes in clothing., with the size of the hole increases over time. They can create bare areas in woollen carpets and rugs.

The adult moths are hard to spot and actually prefer dark areas. They are poor flyers and are normally only seen when clothing is disturbed.


Apart from damage to fabric, the presence of webbing (from the webbing clothes moth) can be more readily noticed than the well camouflaged larval case of case making moths.

  • Regularly vacuum under furniture and along edges and corners of rooms
  • Make sure unused clothes are checked and stored away in sealed containers at the end of the season
  • Check any incoming second hand clothes, rugs, blankets and other fabrics

Monitoring and treatment notes:

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