Moths

Moths can infest and damage natural fibers such as wool, silk, and cotton, as well as other materials such as fur, feathers, and leather. Their larvae feed on these materials, causing holes, discoloration, and other forms of damage that can be expensive to repair or replace.

Some species of moths also infest stored food products, contaminating them with their eggs and larvae.

Pest Species in New York:


Webbing Clothes Moth

Tineola bisselliella

Clothes moth larvae feed on wool and other animal-based materials like silk, fur, and feathers. Adult clothes moths are harmless and tend to weakly flutter around infested items (usually in dark closets and attics).

Webbing clothes moths are the most common species in the United States. Their larvae leave patches and tunnels of silk webbing on clothing and other fabrics that they feed on.

Webbing Clothes Moth

Size: 1/4″ – 1/3″ inch long (6 – 8 mm); about the length of a pea

Color: Light brownish-yellow with a golden shine

Shape: Narrow body with a furry head, long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of fringed wings

Identifying Features

Legs: 6 legs

Antennae: Thin, dark-colored antennae that are almost as long as its body

Body: Furry head and narrow body that’s uniformly buff-colored; look for tufts of reddish-golden hairs on top of its head

Wings: 2 pairs of long, slender wings with shiny golden scales and fringed with golden hair; folded like a roof over its abdomen when at rest

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

Tinea pellionella

Clothes moth larvae feed on wool and other animal-based materials like silk, fur, and feathers. Adult clothes moths are harmless and tend to weakly flutter around infested items (usually in dark closets and attics).

Case-bearing (or “casemaking”) clothes moths, get their name from the tube-like cases that their larvae live in and carry around while feeding.

These cases are made from silk intertwined with fibers from whatever fabric they’re feeding on. If a larva is disturbed, it will retreat into its case.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

Size: 1/4″ – 1/3″ long (6 – 8 mm); about the length of a pea

Color: Silvery-gray and brown

Shape: Narrow body with a furry head, long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of fringed wings

Identifying Features

Legs: 6 legs

Antennae: Thin, dark-colored antennae that are almost as long as its body

Body: Furry head and narrow body with a mottled, silvery-gray or brown appearance

Wings: 2 pairs of long, slender wings with silvery gray and brown scales and fringed with dark hairs; look for 3 faint dark spots on each of its forewings; folded like a roof over its abdomen when at rest

Pantry Moth / Indianmeal Moth

Plodia interpunctella

Pantry moths are primarily pests of stored food products like grains, seeds, cereal, rice, pasta, flour, spices, dried fruit, and pet food.

Their larvae can chew small holes in plastic bags and cardboard containers, and they leave behind silk webbing around and inside of the food they infest. Adults moths lay their eggs directly in contaminated food, which hatch within a week.

Infestations typically originate from already-infested food purchased from a grocery store or food processing facility.

Pantry Moth

Size: 5/16″ – 3/8″ long (8 – 10 mm); about the length of an apple seed

Color: Reddish-bronze and gray

Shape: Oval-shaped body with long antennae, 6 legs, and 2 pairs of fringed wings

Identifying Features

Legs: 6 legs

Antennae: Thin antennae that are about 1/2 the length of its body

Body: Head and thorax are reddish-brown; abdomen is long and mostly brownish-black with a bit of gray on the middle of its back

Wings: 2 pairs of long wings; look for its distinct, bicolored forewings: the lower 2/3 is reddish-bronze with irregular black bands, and the upper 1/3 is a uniform pale gray in color; hindwings are also pale gray with a long fringe of hairs