by Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension

Clothes moths can cause considerable damage to materials containing wool, fur or other animal-derived products.  There are two common clothes moths, case making clothes moths and webbing clothes moths. The names describe the larval (caterpillar) stage of the moth.  Case-making clothes moths spin silken cases that they drag along with them while they feed.  Webbing clothes moths feed within silken burrows that they spin over the surface of fabric.

Adults are small, tan moths about 3/8 an inch long.  They are weak fliers and avoid light.  Larvae like to feed in protected areas, such as folded clothing, and rarely leave their food source.

To reduce or avoid clothes moth problems, the following tips may be helpful:Locate & remove any infested items

  • Look in drawers & closets, on the floor, on or under furniture, on or in walls, ceilings & atticsLaunder or dry clean clothing
  • Periodically shake & air out items such as rugs & clothing
  • Use heat and/ or cold to kill insects in infested items
  • Thoroughly clean storage areas
  • Store clothing in tightly sealed containers
  • Cedar is not that effective in repelling clothes moths
  •     It must be freshly cut or chipped for vapors to be effective & vapors lose potency quickly
  • Mothballs (naphthalene or paradichlorobenzene) can be used to repel insects
  •     Read & follow all label instructions
  •     Use only in sealed areas or closed containers
  •     Note that the fumes from these products may soften or melt some plastics
  • Insecticide sprays can be used to supplement sanitation techniques
  • Removing all items from the area before treating with an insecticide

For more information or help with identification, contact Wizzie Brown, Texas AgriLife Extension Service Program Specialist at 512.854.9600.  Check out my blog at www.urban-ipm.blogspot.com