Winter is here and we are all pulling out the warm sweaters. Everyone has taken out their favorite sweater to find a hole, but how did it get there? Could it be moths? While the age of synthetic fabrics have made moth damage less common, the trend towards traditional fabrics, such as wool, means that the damage could be from moths.
There are two common types of moths that damage clothing and fabrics, the casemaking clothes moth and the webbing cloths moth. It really doesn’t matter which type of moth you have, you just know that you need to get them under control and save your clothing. It is always good to know you enemies, however.
Casemaking Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)
The casemaking clothes moth is named for the silken case spun by the larvae. This entire larval unit moves as the larva moves. The casemaking clothes moth prefers warmer climates; however, with the comfort of heated rooms, the moth does well in most climates indoors. The casemaking clothes moth adult is tan to light brown and can be up to one half inch long. There may be three darker spots on the wings.
Females may lay up to 85 eggs on natural materials such as wool. They prefer materials of animal origin but will feed on plant items such as herbs, food items, and natural fibers such as rope. Development from egg to adult can take from six to fifteen weeks. Larvae feed on the food materials and drag along the “case” as they move from area to area of the food source. Damaged materials appears that the fibers were scraped away from the cloth so that there is appearance that the material is threadbare.
Webbing Clothes Moth (Tinea bisselliella)
The webbing clothes moth is the most common clothes moth found domestically. Adults appear similar to casemaking clothes moths, but have no spots on the wings. Webbing clothes moth adults also have a tuft of red hairs on top of the head. While most homeowners will never be this close to an adult moth to compare hairs, if specimens are found, you might be able to see the red hairs.
The webbing clothes moth spins a web that can appear to be a flat silken small mat. The moth larvae feed on materials of animal origin including furs, woolens, feathers, and even in food products such as dried milk.
The total life cycle can take from as little as a month to several years depending on the food source and conditions. This pest is most devastating to furs, as they will cut off the hairs of the fur at the hide level, leaving “blotches” or patches of missing fur. This type of pest is the reason that many furs are held in storage in the off-season.
Control of Clothes Moths
If you see suspicious holes in fabrics or if you see webbing in clothing, contact us for a thorough inspection. After we inspect the closets, storage areas, and the fabric, we will be able to tell you whether it appears that you have and infestation. If you do have an infestation, our trained professionals are equipped to track the source using extensive inspections and even lures to find the source. Then a targeted treatment can be done using products directed only at the infested area. This means minimal disruption for you, the customer, and will lead to peace of mind protecting those beautiful natural fibers!