Entomology (Study of Bugs)/moths


QUESTION: Good Day Eric,

I have a lurking suspicion that I have clothes moths (unsure of what type) in my home, I have seen a few, and I've finally caught one and been able to take a photo of it. Could you please ID/confirm what it is?

Also, if it was clothes moths, I read on google that they lay eggs on fabrics... I'm just wondering, if they had laid eggs on say, my rug, and I accidentally stepped on the eggs, do I risk bringing the eggs with me on my foot into other rooms?

ANSWER: Hi, Annie:

Yes, the image would appear to depict a clothes moth, family Tineidae.

You are unlikely to move eggs unless you move the rug.  Insect eggs are durable, but would certainly not survive being stepped on.

It is important to note that clothes moths only affect woolens, furs, and silks, those fabrics of *animal* origin.  Store woolens in a cedar chest when not in use, vacuum and launder regularly, and you should have minimal problems if any at all.  I would strongly advise against using chemical controls.  "Mothballs" (naphthelene) are almost completely ineffective.  Moth *crystals* (paradicholorobenzene) are at least potentially carcinogenic.  Other chemicals will have their own hazards.

Here is a link with more information:


I'll add one final thought:  I rarely get questions about clothes moths, and I believe they are a pest on the wane, at least as far as fabrics go.  Carpet beetles are more of a problem, but the same preventative measures apply.

Good luck, have a great year!


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

single white fibre?
single white fibre?  


Thanks for your reply. On the same note, would it be possible to accidentally step on a larva and then bring it to a different room?

In addition to this, I'm wondering if you can tell me if the kinds of things I've been noticing around the house sound like damage from the moth larva?
I've been noticing
-loose threads on items (no holes per se).. just areas where seams are coming undone (only certain areas, not an overall pattern)
-areas where the fabric seems more worn out (not holes)
some small bundles of dust/fibres that have these white long fibres combined with them (no larva inside)
and today i found a few just single white extremely thin long things/fibres on some clothes in my closet (no holes, not webbing) ..

Sorry, I'm just feeling extremely terrified and want to know what I'm dealing with here. So far Ive seen about 5 adult moths (some dead, some alive) and a few larva as well. I'm in the process of washing everything and transferring it to vacuum sealed bags, and have been vacuuming almost daily..

Anyway, thanks again for answering questions.




You are welcome for the previous answer.  The images here seem to show normal wear as far as I know, but then I probably hang onto clothes for too long anyway....

It could still be that the moths are something else that is feeding on dry food of some kind in the pantry or elsewhere (dry pet food is often a major source of moth infestations), and you are simply seeing the adult moths that have flown into other rooms.

Do check dried animal products of all kinds, spices, candy, etc that is not stored in glass or metal containers with tight-fitting lids.  Cardboard boxes and plastic bags are no barrier at all to hungry moth larvae.  You will probably see signs of webbing in  any infested item.

I have offered as much help as I can now.  Please consider contacting your provincial department of agriculture, natural history museum, or even local department of health for further information and assistance.


Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Eric R. Eaton


I answer insect and spider identification questions ONLY. Attach images if possible. No "what bit me?", "what do I feed this bug in captivity?", or science fair project questions please. NO TECHNICAL QUESTIONS ABOUT INSECT PHYSIOLOGY.


Principal author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America. Professional entomologist employed previously at University of Massachusetts, Chase Studio, Inc., and Cincinnati Zoo; contract work for West Virginia Department of Natural Resources, Smithsonian Institution, and Portland (Oregon) State University.

Author, Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Missouri Conservationist magazine, Ranger Rick, Birds & Blooms, Timeline (journal of the Ohio Historical Society). I have contributed to several books as well.

Oregon State University, undergraduate major in entomology, did not receive degree.

Awards and Honors
One of the top 50 experts in all categories for AllExperts.com, 2009.

Past/Present Clients
Principal author of the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, Smithsonian Institution (contract), Cincinnati Zoo (employer), Portland State University (contract), Chase Studio, Inc (employer), Arkansas Museum of Discovery (guest speaker). Currently seeking speaking engagements, leadership roles at nature festivals, workshops, and ecotours.

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