Common Moth Species

Moths may look small and harmless but they can cause surprising amounts of damage to your clothing and textiles and stored products in general.

In the UK there are four species of moth in particular, which can cause problems in your home or business.

Brown House Moth

(Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

It is very common to see Brown House moths in your home.

Brown House Moth - Hofmannophila pseudopretella

Appearance

  • Adult — 8–14 mm long.
  • Brown in colour with three or four darker spots.
  • Larva — up to 20 mm long.
  • Larvae feed on animal textiles like wool, leather and feathers.

Lifecycle

  • Normally one generation per year.

Habits

  • Larva may wander considerable distances prior to pupation.
  • Generally regarded as a scavenger.

Common Clothes Moth

(Tineola bisselliella)

The Common Clothes Moth larvae is responsible for making irregular holes in fabrics.

Appearance

  • Adult — 6 – 8 mm long.
  • Straw coloured wings with no markings.
  • Trailing edge of the wings is strongly fringed.
  • Larvae — up to 10 mm long. Creamy white with a brown head.

Lifecycle

  • Egg to adult is usually about 6 weeks. May reach 10 to 18 months if the food is poor or temperatures are cold.

Habits

  • Adult does not feed. Runs rather than flies, avoids the light.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

(Tinea pellionella)

The Case-Bearing Clothes moth makes more regular holes in fabrics.

Appearance

  • Adult — 6 - 8mm long.
  • Dark buff forewings with three faint spots (may appear as two).
  • Larvae — up to 10 mm long.  Creamy white in colour.

Lifecycle

Similar to the Common Clothes moth.

Habits

More rare than the Common Clothes moth. Check imported goods such as hides or objects of animal origin.

White-Shouldered House Moth

(Endrosis sarcitrella)

White-Shouldered House moths are generally less damaging to textiles.

Cheryl Moorehead, individual, Bugwood.org

Appearance

  • Adult — 6 to 10mm long.
  • White head with mottled wings.
  • Larvae— up to 12 mm long.  Cream coloured larvae with red-brown head.
  • Pupa — in a silk cocoon.

Lifecycle

Normally one generation per year.

Habits

Often found in unheated outdoor buildings.

Larvae scavenge on a wide range of foods.