Casemaking Clothes Moth

Facts, Identification & Control

Scientific Name

Tinea pellionella


Casemaking clothes moth adults are about 3/8-1/2 inches long. The wings have three dark spots, but may be rubbed off on older moths. Wings are brownish-gray, long and narrow. The larval stage (grub) is yellowish in color and up to 1/2-inch long. The casemaking clothes moth builds a case of silk particles that it drags about wherever it goes to feed.

Case making Clothes Moth
Case making Clothes Moth image licensed under CC

Behavior, Diet & Habits

Adult male and female casemaking clothes moths, much like the webbing clothes moth, prefer to stay close to their source of food and are not very active in brightly lit environments. Therefore, they can be unnoticed by homeowners until someone is cleaning out a closet or moving stored fabrics that were rarely disturbed. Homeowners often confuse fabric moths, such as the casemaking clothes moth, with food storage moths. If the homeowner sees moths flying around lights or in well lit rooms, it is more likely to be a food-infesting moth than a fabric moth. The larval stage is the damaging stage of this species and feeds on wool, cotton, furs and other natural fibers used on carpets, rugs and furniture. While the casemaking clothes moth is less common, and far less economically important, than the webbing clothes moth, they can be a difficult insect to control in storage facilities.

More Information

Controlling and preventing a casemaking clothes moth infestation is very similar to what works for the webbing clothes moth. Proper identification is the first step to resolve a clothes moth problem. This task usually must be left up to your pest management professional since identification of fabric moths, especially in the larval stage, requires the use of identification keys and observing very small taxonomic characteristics. Since reduction of food sources and favorable habitat are critical, cleaning the home to remove food sources; monthly or quarterly inspection of clothes closets; and other clothing storage areas is recommended. An important precaution for the homeowner is to regularly dispose of used vacuum bags so a webbing clothes moth problem does not develop in the vacuum bag. Storing susceptible fabrics in an airtight container or bag is also very helpful, but be sure to either launder and use the dryer on high heat, or dry clean any infested items prior to storage. In conclusion, fabric handling experts or your pest management professional who has the equipment and expertise to properly deal with problems should treat infested items if the actions mentioned above are not effective. It is imperative that the homeowner never applies pesticides to clothing or bedding.