Clothes moths are found throughout Canada, and are well-known for their reputation for causing damage to clothing, bedding, carpets, rugs, furniture and many other articles in a home or business.  Damage ranges from irregular surface damage to large holes eaten through materials and fabrics.

There are two types of clothes moths - webbing clothes moths (Tineola bisselliella) and casemaking clothes moths (Tinea pellionella). The webbing clothes moth is found more often than the Casemaking Clothes Moth. Learn more about the types of clothes moths.


Webbing Clothes Moth vs. Casemaking Moth

           A Webbing clothes moth         A casemaking clothes moth


Clothes moth adults do not feed so they cause no injury to fabrics. However, the adults produce eggs which hatch into the fabric-eating larvae. These larvae can cause serious damage. The larvae favour dark, undisturbed areas for feeding, like closets, boxes, basements and attics, that store articles for long periods of time. They prefer to inhabit the corners or folds of fabrics or materials.

Clothes moths larvae resemble tiny creamy-white coloured caterpillars. They feed on:

  • Animal-based materials like fur, cashmere, silk, felt, leather, wool and feathers.
  • Stored wool garments, coats, blankets, down pillows and carpets.
  • Decorative items, upholstered furniture, toys and animal trophies.
  • Articles made with natural fibers containing the protein keratin.
  • Synthetic fabrics like rayon and polyester that are blended with wool or are considerably sullied with residual body perspiration or food stains.
  • Lint and shed pet hair found in air ducts
  • Animal nests, bird nests or animal carcasses found in basements, wall voids, attics and chimneys

Clothes moth larvae do not consume water in the conventional sense. They intake water through humidity, which is why they are attracted to residual food, drink, urine or sweat on clothing, carpets, upholstered furniture, etc.

Once clothe moth larvae are done feeding, they will spin their cocoon. Depending on the type of clothes moth, they will do this at their feeding site or spin their cocoon further away. In this case, the larvae can be found crawling over walls and ceiling in search of the ideal location.

Clothes moths avoid light, so they are seldom seen. If you happen to discover small moths flying about your home or business, especially a kitchen area, these are likely grain moths originating from an infested stored food item, like flour.

Interestingly, adult female clothes moths hop or crawl, while male clothes moth often flies (as they are in search of a mate).


The Life Cycle of a Clothes Moth

Clothes moths go through a full metamorphosis, like a butterfly. They move through 4 stages: egg, larvae, pupa and adult.

Adult female clothes moths can lay between 100 to 400 eggs. The eggs, which average 0.5mm in length, hatch as clothes moth larvae 4 to 10 days depending on temperature and humidity of their habitat.

The larvae, now at their more destructive life cycle stage, can remain in this stage for over 3 years before becoming an adult clothes moth. During this period, they can grow from 3mm to up to 1.5cm in length if they have sufficient food and moisture. Once the larvae have grown to the right size, and if the temperature is favourable, they pupate which takes 8-10 days.

In the pupate stage, they spin a cocoon, where they will transform into an adult clothes moth.  The adult clothes moths emerge around 1 to1.5cm in length. While they are harmless, and do not feed, they are a serious signal that an infestation is possible, should they mate and lay eggs.

The life span of a female adult clothes moth is up to 2 weeks after she lays her eggs. While adult male clothes moths typically live an average of 2 weeks too, an adult male webbing clothes moths can live up to 4 weeks. 


Signs of a Clothes Moth Infestation

Here are some signs that you may have a clothes moth infestation:

  • Finding holes in materials and fabrics, or irregular surface damage, uncommon with natural wear due to regular or seasonal use.
  • The hairs on fur articles are clipped at their base resulting in exposed hide and loose fur.
  • Silken tubes are found hidden in clothing, like under shirt collars, or in cracks and crevices.
  • Webbing ‘debris from cocoons is found on damaged materials and articles.
  • Discovering live clothes moth larvae feeding on your clothing, carpets, stored materials, etc.


How to Get Rid of Clothes Moths

Prevention is key in getting rid of clothes moths, especially as the larvae do the most damage. Here are some tips to help you prevent a clothes moth infestation:

  • Regularly clean and laundry woolens and susceptible fabrics, especially those that have more long-term storage. Cleaning is the most effective method for getting rid of clothes moths, as it kills any present larvae or eggs on the material, and removes all perspiration odours that casemaking clothes moths and webbing clothes moths find attractive.
  • Regularly inspect clothing, carpets and other susceptible materials made of natural fibres every 4-6 months.
    • If you uncover infested clothing or articles, you can try brushing off the larvae and eggs, sunning them, dry cleaning or washing in very hot water.
    • If caught early, this can prevent or minimize damage to articles and future clothes moth life cycles.
  • Maintain good housekeeping by preventing accumulate of lint, dust and hair through regular vacuuming of carpets, rugs, closets, pet bedding, drapes, upholstered furniture, baseboards, cracks and crevices in floors, furnace air ducts and vents and around heaters.
  • Properly store items for long-term storage in a clean state and in sealed containers with tight-fitting lids.
    • Further sealing up containers with high quality tape, and encasing the container in a strong hole-free plastic bag are additional measures you can take to help prevent a clothes moth infestation.
    • If the bag should be teared, or the tape seal broken, replace or repair.
  • Where possible, store garments, especially fur in dry cold locations.
  • Regularly inspect for and remove bird or rodent nests found within your home or business.


If you have a serious clothes moth infestation, reach out to a professional pest control company for assistance in getting rid of clothes moths.

Call 1 (800) 263-5055

Our Professional Team is Happy to Help!