Clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella and Tinea spp.) in Australia

Clothes moths are invasive pests.

Clothes moths are found across Australia and worldwide

Clothes moths eat wool and wide range of fabric and are primarily a residential pest. However, and establishment that has susceptible fabrics (eg. museums and historic buildings) need to be on their guard.

The clothes moth larvae will chew holes in the fabric, which in many cases will mean the item has to be thrown out, as they often cannot be satisfactorily repairs (without the repair being noticed).

The challenge from a pest control point of view is making sure all sources of infestation are identified and controlled.

Clothes moth larvae:

Clothes moth 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.

Clothes moth 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 clothes moths.

Getting rid of clothes moths is a time consuming process, as it is necessary to locate all sources of infestation and it is important to treat all the clothes in the areas (as you need to assume all clothes could contain eggs or larvae).

This can be a challenge for homeowners, so often it is better to engage a professional pest manager.

  1. The first step in the process is to identify the source of the problem. Once identified, all the clothes in that particular wardrobe need to be removed, placed in bags and sealed.
  2. To get rid of any eggs and larvae, the clothes in their bags should be placed in the sun for several hours to kill the larvae. If the clothes are delicate and you are concerned about how the heat may impact them. Move on to step 3.
  3. Then the clothes should be inspected for potential damage before washing in as hot a wash as the label allows.
  4. The pest manager will spray any clothes storage areas with a suitable product to kill any eggs, larvae or adults still present are eliminated. If the infestation area is carpet, curtain or other fabric it will need to be treated similarly
  5. Prevention of future problem should focus on regularly vacuuming of carpets (especially under heaving furniture) and making sure that clothes are stored in sealed bags at the end of each season
  6. Clothes moths repellents hung in wardrobes can be effective in preventing future clothes moths infestation

Pheromone traps for clothes moths can be a useful monitoring system and help prevent infestations becoming established.

For more information on clothes moths, check out our magazine article, Clothes Moths – All you need to know!

  • 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

Other pest moths.

Other fabric pests.

Monitoring and treatment notes:

Professional Pest Managers can login for more information

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