clothes moth, name for several species of moths of the family Tineidae, whose larvae feed on wool, furs, feathers, upholstery, and a variety of animal products. Clothes moths are of Old World origin. Those commonest in North America are the case-bearing clothes moth, Tinea pellionella, and the webbing clothes moth, Tineola bisselliella. The adults are yellowish or buff moths, often called millers, with a wingspread of about 1/2 in. (1.2 cm). They lay 100 to 150 eggs on the material which is to provide food for the larvae; they do not feed on fabrics themselves. The larva of the case-bearing clothes moth makes an open-ended case out of food fibers and its own silk; it feeds and pupates (see insect) within the case. The webbing clothes moth larva makes no case, but when it pupates it builds a cocoon of silk and fibers. The life cycle is completed most rapidly at average room temperature and about 75% humidity. The tapestry, or carpet, moth, Trichophaga tapetzella, attacks upholstery. Fumigation, sunning, cleaning, brushing, and cold storage help to prevent damage. Clothes moths are classified in the phylum Arthropoda, class Insecta, order Lepidoptera, family Tineidae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.