Identifying Clothes Moths

Use our photo guide below to identify clothes moths . Click on the images for more information about each species.

Webbing Clothes Moth and Clothes Moth Larvae
Webbing Clothes Moth and Clothes Moth Larvae
Case-Bearing Clothes Moth
Case-Bearing Clothes Moth
Brown House Moth
Brown House Moth
White Shouldered House Moth
White Shouldered House Moth

Look for 1/2-inch long buff-colored moths with narrow wings that have hairs along the edges. These are adult clothes moths. The adults do not eat fabric, but their presence means that eggs will be laid that will produce fabric-eating larvae.

Check for the clothes moth larvae if adult moths are present. The larvae are creamy-white colored caterpillars, which can be as much as a 1/2 inch in length. Identify webbing clothes moth larvae by their feeding tunnels of silk, or webbing patches left behind on the fabric as they move around.

Adult webbing clothes moths have a wingspread of about 1/2-inch and that of the male is somewhat less.. The body is about 1/4-inch long with wings folded and golden-yellow with a satiny sheen (see picture below). A tuft of reddish golden hairs on the head is upright and reddish-gold. Eggs are oval, ivory, and about 1/24-inch long. Larvae are a shiny, creamy white with a brown head, up to 1/2-inch long. The larvae spin long threads and construct tunnels of silk.

Clothes moth larvae feed on wool, feathers, fur, hair, leather, lint, dust, paper, and occasionally cotton, linen, silk, and synthetic fibers. They are especially damaging to fabric stained with beverages, oil from hair, and sweat. Most damage is done to articles left undisturbed for a long time, such as old blankets, wool upholstery, feathered hats, antique dolls and toys, weavings, wall hangings, piano felts, old furs, and especially wool carpets under heavy furniture and clothing in storage.

Damaged fabrics have holes eaten through them by small, white larvae and often have silken cases, lines of silken threads, and fecal pellets over the surface of the materials. Moths are destructive during the larvae stage. Adult "millers" or moths are entirely harmless.


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