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Do I Have Clothes Moths?

Flying, eating, crawling, and mating. And no, I'm not talking about your Saturday night.


You (will) See Flying

Adult moths are the easiest to spot. If you see moths flying inside your closet, there is a strong chance fabric-eating larvae aren’t far behind. Typically, adult moths will shelter themselves inside of garments and wait until it’s safe to come out. One way to check for adult moths in your closet is to gently shake and rustle any clothing you have on hangers. This will disturb the adult moths who will fly out and make themselves visible. However, don’t be alarmed—adult moths do not eat clothes—and therefore cannot not cause damage. They also don’t bite humans!

You (may) See Eating

Usually you won’t notice damage to your heirlooms until it’s too late. In the moth life cycle, larvae don’t travel far from where they hatch. These creatures prefer the safety and protection of the garments on which they feed.

You (may) See Crawling

Larvae look like caterpillars. They are slow-moving and difficult to see, as often they burrow inside the fibers of clothing for protection. Larvae are the culprits for clothing damage—a single caterpillar can spend up to six months feeding on an article of clothing before advancing to the pupa stage. Moth caterpillars build cocoons on their journey to adulthood. These can be constructed out of spun silk or foraged materials, depending on the species. Webbing moths build cocoons from silk, while casemaking moths build cocoons from fibers. Typically, casemaking moth cocoons are easier to identify due to their durability.
Moth eggs

You (may) See Mating

Moth eggs are extremely small in appearance—roughly the size of a pin head—and white in color. They are usually attached to a white webbing material in randomly-arranged patches. Typically, the female will lay eggs on a keratin-based food source for hatched larvae to eat. Eggs gestate for a period of one week before hatching into larvae.

What's the Difference Between Cocoons and Larvae?

Cocoons are easier to spot than larvae. Look for white woven pods on your clothing. As the larvae lives in the fabric, it collects detritus to bring back to weave the cocoon. The larvae look like little white caterpillars, usually less than an eighth of an inch long.​

Observe the white cocoon which has been woven from the fibers nearby. Cocoon colors vary depending on the substance harvested by the larvae.

Larvae move around the environment slowly. Take your time when evaluating garments. 

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