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Case Making Clothes Moth

Case Making Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)

Case Making Clothes Moth (Tinea pellionella)

Structure, Appearance and Characteristics


  • 7-10mm in length.
  • Wingspan approx. 10-14mm.
  • Brown in colour.
  • 3 dark spots on wings, sometimes indistinct.
  • Sucking mouthparts.


  • Up to 10mm long.
  • Pale yellow or creamy white with dark brown head.
  • Dorsum of 1st thoracic segment becomes dark and conspicuous with growth.
  • Chewing mouthparts.
  • Spins a small silken cell around itself and carries it while it feeds. The case has interwoven fibres of the material on which it is feeding, making it inconspicuous.
  • It is also open at both ends.
  • It moves by extending its head and legs from the front end of the case.

Life Cycle

  • Complete metamorphosis (egg – larva – pupa – adult) 
  • Eggs are creamy white when laid and turn red. 
  • Eggs are oval in outline, slightly broader at one end than the other. 
  • Female lays 37-48 eggs. 
  • Eggs hatch in 4-7 days. 
  • Larva builds a case of silk interwoven with other fibres in which it enlarges and grows. 
  • Larva dies if removed from the case. 
  • Larval stage lasts 68-87 days. 
  • When pupation occurs, larva seals itself inside the case. 
  • An appropriate protected place such as a crack or crevice is sought for pupation.
  • Pupal stage lasts 9-19 days. 
  • Adult life span is 4-6 days.

Found in homes, gift and specialty shops where fabric items are featured. Anywhere that food and shelter source is available.

Utilise and attack items containing keratin, which is a chief constiuent of structures such as hair of humans and other animals, horns, hoofs and feathers. Keratin is a protein which is quite stable chemically and is very resistant to most means of digestion.
Will attack woollens, rugs, furs, stuffed animals, feathers and down, felts, stored tobacco, linseeds, almonds, ginger and a variety of roots and leaves.

Pest Status
Not as common as the webbing clothes moth. Pest of woollens, upholstered furniture, feathers, felts, clothes, woollen carpets. Damage is done by larvae. Adults do not feed on these commodities.

Well camouflaged in larval stage with ‘case’ covered with same material as feeding source. Wide variety of material is available as a food source in most premises. When larvae pupate they move to secluded places, normally high and undetected. A weakness is that the larvae move slowly and rely totally on camouflage for protection.

Hygiene and temperature treatments are the most effective in clothing. For carpets, vacuuming and chemical treatments would be most effective. Treatment should be targetted at the larvae since the adults are non-destructive in themselves. Space spray in confined areas could be effective if adults are present. 

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