How can you tell the difference between a carpet moth and a clothes moth?
Given the threat posed by carpet moths and clothes moths, which will eagerly destroy keratin-containing fabrics before they complete metamorphosis, it’s important to understand the differences between these two pests. Often, people believe that any common outdoor moth has the potential to burrow itself under carpets and inside fabrics, feasting with reckless abandon until a hapless homeowner discovers the damage many months or years later.
So you ask, “Hey, Moth Guy, what’s the difference between a carpet moth and a clothes moth? Surely some moths have a knack for quality interior decor, and others prefer fashionable sweaters? Do these species look alike? How can I tell the difference?” You may be surprised at the answer.
There’s no difference!
Many people are shocked to learn that there aren’t two separate species of carpet moths and clothes moths. These alleged “species” are one in the same. While there are indeed two species of moths that feed on keratin (see featured image), it isn’t true that some prefer carpets and others prefer clothing. So, if you see moths feeding on your antique rug, that means your wool and silk garments are also at risk. Conversely, if you find moths in your clothing, your rugs could also be infested. So, whenever you think “carpet moth,” remember the name “clothes moth” is equally fitting for these creatures.
The secret is keratin
The webbing moth and the casemaking moth are two species of moth that live exclusively on keratin, a naturally-occurring protein present in fabrics such as wool, silk, and fur. This protein is also present in human hair. In order for the moths to complete their lifecycle, they must identify and colonize food sources; in many circumstances this is a rug or carpet within the home, while in other situations it is a sweater or coat. While it doesn’t matter where the keratin is located, it does matter that you immediately identify all areas where carpet moths can cause damage.