Tineola bisselliella, otherwise known as the webbing clothing moth, is a grey-yellow in color and has a shiny luster. Its thin wings span 12-16mm. While adults have a reddish-gold tuft of hair on top of their heads, the heads of larvae are usually a dirty yellow color that is nearly brown in nature. Larvae are usually 7-9mm in length. The clothing moth is a species that is relatively rare in North America. Despite being a rarity, however, the trouble they can stir up is nearly common knowledge in households across the continent.
Once the eggs of a clothing moth hatch, the larvae will look for food. Larvae of this species are known to feed on fibers of clothing and carpet. However, the caterpillars prefer soiled or damp fibers because they need moisture since they do not drink water. In less than two months, clothing moth larvae can obtain enough food to spin a cocoon and reach adulthood. The process, however, can take up to two years depending on how much food is available for the larvae.
Contrary to the beliefs of many, the adult clothing moth does not consume any fibers. In fact, the adult does not eat at all. Once the adult moths emerge, males and females mate, and find a safe place to lay their eggs. The moths will seek out a place where their offspring will have the best chance at survival. While difficult to spot at 1mm in length, eggs can be found on clothing, in carpet, rugs, etc. They are difficult to remove.
Unlike other moths, clothing moths prefer low-light areas and are not attracted to light at all. In fact, if they find themselves in a lighted area, they will try to hide under furniture or carpet.
While preventing an infestation of clothing moths is always easier than eliminating one, there are a lot of options for treatment:
Mothballs and Traps - While mothballs are typically used as a preventive measure, if the concentration is high enough, they will kill larvae. Traps are usually coated with an adhesive and kill adult moths.
Dry cleaning - Dry cleaning infested articles of clothing removes eggs, larvae, and adults that may be on the clothing.
Heat - Storing infested articles in a hot attic during warm weather will kill larvae. Similarly, washing clothes at temperatures above 120 °F or 49 °C for 30 minutes or more will also work.
Vacuuming - Since clothing moth larvae often feed on carpet, vacuuming regularly is another way to remove them from fibers they may be damaging.