The webbing clothes moth and the casemaking clothes moth are occasional fabric pests in California. Clothes moths are weak flyers and are not attracted to lights. They tend to hide when disturbed, and for this reason, infestations of clothes moths are not usually noticed until damaged fabrics, furs, or feathers are found.
Close examination of the objects reveals the presence of silken webs that are spun by the larvae. The webbing clothes moth is the most common fabric moth. Adults have golden colored wings. Because the moths are weak flyers and not attracted to lights, they are usually found very close to the infested items, such as in dark areas of closets. Casemaking clothes moths are similar in size and appearance to webbing clothes moths. The wings of the casemaking clothes moth are more brownish than those of the webbing clothes moth and have faint dark-colored spots.
Larvae of both species are nearly identical, except that larvae of the casemaking clothes moth always carry a silken case with them as they feed. They never leave this silken tube, but enlarge it as they grow. They feed from either end and retreat into it when disturbed. This case takes on the coloration of the fabric eaten by the larvae.
The larva is the damaging stage of the clothes moth. Both species feed on wool clothing, carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, furs, stored wool, animal bristles in brushes, wool felts in pianos, and fish meal in fish food. Synthetics or fabrics such as cotton are fed on if they are blended with wool. Larvae may use cotton fibers to make their pupal cases. Damage generally appears in hidden locations such as under collars or cuffs of clothing, in crevices of upholstered furniture, and in areas of carpeting covered by furniture. Fabrics stained by foods, perspiration, or urine are more subject to damage.
The most common species of meal moths found in the home pantry is the Indianmeal moth. All damage is done by the larvae, which attack a wide range of products, including cereal and cereal products, flour, cornmeal, rice, dried fruit, dehydrated vegetables, nuts, chocolate, candies, and other confections. When infestations are heavy, mature larvae can often be found in parts of the house far from the original food source because they move quite a distance to pupate.