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What is it?

Tineola bisselliella or tinea pellionella chew holes in clothing, carpets, blankets, upholstery, pillows and other items made of fur, wool, leather or feathers. These insects are not attracted to light and so usually affect articles in storage or dark areas.

What does it look like?

They are small tan and yellowish moths. They may leave a webbing of silken tubes, strands or cases in areas of damage and sometimes you may see shiny white caterpillars up to 1/2 inch long crawling on items that have clothes moth damage. Holes will be irregular and can range in size from small to large depending on amount of damage.

How does it manifest?

Female clothes moths attach their eggs to the fabric of various items. Soon larvae emerge and will form cases, strands and silken tubes that they spin. They typically will feed from within these protective casings but occasionally crawl from beneath them to feed. Larvae pupate in cocoons, which are attached by silken threads to the infested material, and they emerge as adult moths. New infestations occur when these adult moths lay their eggs again, or when moth-ridden items are stored with uninfested ones.

What can you do about it?

Your best bet is to spray clean clothes with tetramethrin containing chemicals prior to storage in airtight containers and closets. This will protect clothes for up to 6 months. Infested clothes should be taken outside and aired after a good shaking. It’s also a good idea to brush off all items to remove cases and cocoons attached by silken threads. You should vacuum and sweep all infested rooms thoroughly, destroying the vacuum bag immediately. If carpets and furs have been infested you should seek the assistance of a professional.