Carpet Moth (Tineola bisselliella)

Where Usually Found

In rooms in which woollen or fur clothes are kept, or in where there are woollen carpets or curtains. Both the adults and grubs (larvae) prefer darkness, but adult males and females that have laid their eggs may often be seen when turning on a light in a previously darkened room.

What they do

The grub or caterpillar (larva) eats wool, food or grease and fur, preferably soiled with sweat. Cotton, and nylon may be attacked if soiled with perspiration. The moths are rarely found outside houses now, but in prehistoric times they presumably fed on discarded fur and feathers, or those of dead animals.

How to control (by natural methods)

These insects manage to squeeze through very small cracks, so even close-fitting wardrobes and chests of drawers offer little protection from clothes moths. Woollen and fur goods should be kept clean, and garments completely sealed inside plastic bags. Strong sunlight kills clothes moths, so blankets and other large articles should be periodically hung in the sun. Ideally, carpets should not stand under large pieces of furniture, or if they do, they must be regularly vacuumed. Cold storage for furs during summer will avoid moths at the most active period.

Life history and other comments

Like other moths and butterflies, clothes moths have different body shapes at different times of their lives. They start as a tiny egg, smaller than a pin’s head. This hatches into a small caterpillar-like grub or larva, which Clothes Mothis the destructive stage. In some species, the larva is enclosed in a tubular case which is carried about like a snail’s shell. The larvae chew the woollen fibers, damaging far more than they eat. Under normal circumstances the larvae may live and eat for six to twelve months or more, before turning into an inactive stage, the pupa or chrysalis. The adult moth, which emerges from the pupa, lives only for two or three weeks. Moths seen flying about are both males and females, the females have already laid their eggs. Killing flying moths therefore does very little to control clothes moths as the flying ones have already reproduced, it is when they are at their young stages they do the damage.

Where to obtain professional advice


Melvyn or Kevin Gilbert. Phone. 03 3841636 (NEW ZEALAND)

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