- "Carpet moth" redirects here. This term is also used for several geometer moths of the subfamily Larentiinae called "carpets".
The Clothing Moth (Tineola bisselliella) is a winged insect capable of flying, which develops from a caterpillar. It is recognized as a serious pest. Like most moth caterpillars, it can (and will) derive nourishment not only from clothing but also from many other sources.
The Webbing Clothing Moth (Tineola bisselliella) is said to be the most common variety. (See this article under "Development" para 3)
The Casemaking Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) is less common than the Webbing Clothing Moth. Casemaking moths are smaller, at around 1/8 to 1/4 inch. The "casing", or tube, these moths make is spun from silk and can become their refuge for protection in times of danger. Both species are controlled in the same way.
The Tapestry or Carpet Moth will infest all the same areas as webbing cloth and casemaking moths. Tapestry moths complete their cycles within a year and are more like webbing clothes moths in that they spin webbing in areas where they like to reside. As with the other two, their speed of development depends entirely upon local temperature, humidity and food supplies.
The Clothing Moth (Tineola bisselliella) and the Case-bearing Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella) are notorious for feeding on clothing and natural fibres; they have the ability to turn keratin, a protein present in hair and wool, into food. Clothing moths prefer dirty fabric and are particularly attracted to carpeting and clothing that contain human sweat or other liquids which have been spilled onto them. They are attracted to these areas not for the food but for the moisture. Moth larvae do not drink water; consequently their food must contain moisture.
The Development Cycle of the Clothing Moth. Eggs hatch into larvae, which then begin to feed. Once they get their fill, they pupate and undergo metamorphosis to emerge as adults. Adults do not eat: male adults look for females and adult females look for places to lay eggs. Once their job is done, they die. Contrary to what most people believe, adult clothing moths do not eat or cause any damage to clothing or fabric. It is the larvae which are solely responsible for this, spending their entire time eating and foraging for food.
Both adults and larvae prefer low light conditions. Whereas most other moths are drawn to light, clothing moths seem to prefer dim or dark areas. If larvae find themselves in a well-lit room, they will try to relocate under furniture or carpet edges. Hand made rugs are a favorite because it is easy for them to crawl underneath and do their damage from below. They will also crawl under moldings at the edges of rooms in search of darkened areas which hold good food.
The most common clothing moth is the Webbing Clothes Moth. It prefers moist conditions, although low humidity will merely slow development. Webbing Clothes Moths are small moths whose adults grow to between 1 and 2 cm. Their eggs are tiny, most being under 1 mm long and barely visible. A female will lay several hundred during her lifetime; egg placement is carefully chosen in locations where they will have the best chance for survival. The eggs are attached with a glue-like substance and can be quite difficult to remove. After the egg hatches, the larva will immediately look for food. Larvae can obtain their required food in less than two months, but if conditions are not favorable they will feed on and off for a long time. Whether it takes two months or two years, each larva will eventually spin a cocoon in which it will change into an adult. Larvae stay in these cocoons for between one and two months and then emerge as adults ready to mate and to lay eggs.
Fabric pests such as clothes moths, although not particularly dangerous, can sometimes cause irreparable damage to personal belongings. These moths are able to digest animal hairs and, therefore, feed on almost any item made of natural fibers, particularly wool and cashmere
Control measures can include the following:
Clothing Moth Traps - This step can help monitor the current infestation and prevent males from mating with females.
Vacuuming - Since moths like to hide in carpeting and baseboards, this is an important step towards full eradication.
Dry cleaning - This step kills moths on existing clothing and helps remove moisture from clothes.
Sunlight - has a limited effect
Heat - Extreme high temperatures (120 degrees Fahrenheit or 50 degrees Celsius for 30 minutes plus). These conditions may possibly be achieved by placing infested materials in an attic, or by washing clothes at or above this temperature.
Freezing - Freezing the object for several days at temperatures below 32 °F or 0 °C
Dry ice fumigation - Fumigating an object with dry ice, that is enclosing an object with dry ice so it is effectively bathed in a high concentration of carbon dioxide, will kill all stages of clothing moths. For details,see:Clothes Moths Management Guidelines, under "Household Furnishings".
Permethrin - Typically an aerosol or spray works best here.
Nylar - Stops the life cycle.
Mothballs - There are two types of mothball. Older types are based on napthalene while more recent ones use paradichlorobenzene. Both decay into a gaseous state. They fall to the lowest point as a gas and need to reach a high concentration to be effective.
Cedar is of questionable value as a deterrent. While the volatile oil of eastern red cedar, is able to kill small larvae, it is difficult to maintain sufficient concentrations of it around stored articles to be effective. Also, cedar loses this quality after a few years.
Apply the chemical using a sprayer. Be sure to get proper coverage and don't spread it too thinly. Treat once a month for the first three months and then once a quarter for the next year to ensure the infestation is under control.
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