- Size: About 7 to 8 mm wingspan
- Color: Silvery gray or light brown
- Distinctive Feature: Fringed wings, larvae feed on natural fibers
- Habitat: Wardrobes, drawers where clothes are stored, carpets
Clothes moths are small insects that typically measure between 4 and 7 mm in length. Their color varies from beige to golden brown, and they have fringed wings that enable them to fly, although they are not excellent fliers. These moths go through a life cycle that includes four stages: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The larvae, which are whitish and measure up to 10 mm, are responsible for the damage to clothes.
These moths prefer dark, quiet, and undisturbed places, such as wardrobes, closets, or drawers. They are attracted to natural fibers like wool, silk, cotton, and cashmere. Clothes moths avoid light and are therefore rarely seen during the day. Their habitats are often identified by the presence of small holes in clothes or fabrics, as well as cocoons and webs spun by the larvae.
Adult clothes moths do not feed; it is their larvae that cause damage by feeding on natural fibers. The adults are mainly active in the dark and spend their time reproducing. Females lay between 40 and 50 eggs, which hatch into larvae in one to two weeks. The larvae are the most destructive, gnawing at fabrics to feed for several months before metamorphosing into pupae. The lifespan of adult moths is relatively short, about two to four weeks.
Distinguishing Clothes Moths from Other Insects
The Indian Meal Moth, or pantry moth, is distinguishable from clothes moths by several characteristics. Firstly, their appearance is different: Indian Meal Moths are generally darker, with shades of brown or copper, and are slightly larger, measuring about 8 to 10 mm in length. Secondly, their habitat and diet differ considerably. Indian Meal Moths are commonly found in kitchens and pantries, where they infest dry food products such as grains, nuts, or dried fruits. Unlike clothes moths, which damage natural fibers, the Indian Meal Moth leaves behind silky webs and food debris.
Drain Flies are significantly smaller, measuring between 2 and 5 mm, with a rounder body and proportionally larger wings, giving them a fluffier appearance. They prefer moist environments and are often associated with plumbing or hygiene issues, such as clogged drains or pipes, a very different habitat from clothes moths. Moreover, their life cycle revolves around laying eggs in decomposing organic matter, not in fabrics as clothes moths do. The presence of Drain Flies is often an indicator of conditions of moisture and decay, rather than a textile infestation.