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Clothes Moths - Lepidoptera: Tineidae



Authors as Published

Eric Day, Department of Entomology, Virginia Tech


Image 1 clothes moths Larva, pupa, and adult Clothes moth on wool. Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series. Bugwood.org.


Clothes moths are small, yellowish to slightly gold-colored moths with narrow, slightly pointed wings. They are not attracted to lights and usually hide when

Size: Less than 1 inch. 
Color: Yellowish to gold-colored.


In houses where wool is available; also, in the wild.

Life Cycle

Female webbing clothes moths lay 40-50 eggs that hatch in 4 to 21 days. Larvae like to feed on soiled material, spinning silken mats or tunnels and incorporating textile fragments and bits of feces into the construction. The life cycle is about 65 to 90 days.

Type of Damage

Clothes moths can feed on wool products, such as clothing, carpets, rugs, furs, fabrics, blankets, and piano felts. They may feed on fabrics of vegetable origin (cotton) if the fabrics are mixed with wool or soiled with food particles. Clothes moths can do serious damage to small or large wool rugs. The caterpillars can feed on the underside of the rug for a long time–doing considerable damage–before they are detected.

Cultural Control

Articles must be protected from clothes moth attack, either by frequent cleaning or storing in insect-free environments. Wool rugs should be inspected and cleaned (if small enough) on a regular basis.

Interesting Facts

Most damage is done to clothing and fiber left undisturbed for a long time or to clothing soiled with beverages, urine, oil, and sweat.


Virginia Cooperative Extension materials are available for public use, reprint, or citation without further permission, provided the use includes credit to the author and to Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, and Virginia State University.


Issued in furtherance of Cooperative Extension work, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Virginia State University, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture cooperating. Edwin J. Jones, Director, Virginia Cooperative Extension, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg; M. Ray McKinnie, Interim Administrator, 1890 Extension Program, Virginia State University, Petersburg.


May 13, 2011

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