Every year a great damage is caused by the various fabric-destroying insects like the cloth moths which result in huge losses both in commercial fabric producing units as well as in our household. Anything that is made up of furs, leathers, hair and hides, feathers and even silk and cloth get infested by these cloth moths.
Why Do Cloth Moths Feed On Cloths?
Now here comes the question as to why these moths attack clothes? Just like the termites and other varieties of pests which have the capability to digest cellulose, the cloth moths have the capability to digest and make use of Keratin as a source of energy.
So, how does this fact cause the moths to feed on your pretty dress? Well, Keratin is an important protein that is present in horns, hairs, hoof and skin of mammals. Keratin is a chemically stable protein that has the property to resist most methods of digestion.
Very few animals or insects have the capability to digest Keratin. This peculiar ability that some cloth moths possess the capability of digesting and using Keratin together with our wide use of wool and other Keratin based products for clothing, are the two main reasons why pest problem is so common a house hold problem.
Physical Identification Of Cloth Moths
The body of the Cloth moths is around one fourth of an inch in its length. The wings of the small insect remains folded over its body. They will appear to your eyes as golden yellow or will have a brownish look to them when viewed in dim light.
Small patches of red hair remains on their head and their eggs are around one twenty fifth of an inch in size. When treating the clothes with pest repellants, it is this maggot like eggs which should be identified first and killed. It is quite difficult to differentiate between the standard moths which are seen flying around the houses and the cloth moths.
One major point of difference between them is that the cloth moths have a very small size as compared to the common house moths which are often double the size of the cloth moths. Clothes moths can be captured easily when they have not hidden themselves within the fibers of the cloth.
When looked closely, one can see the tuft of hair as discussed in the above paragraph and mark it as an identifying feature. This is one of the most differentiating features as common moths do not have hair patches on their head.
Another major difference between the two types of moths is that while cloth moths can fly over long distances but they usually hover over the area of infestation. On the other hand common moths fly more directly in search of food and can not be found hovering over a particular area.
There is a marked similarity between the case bearing variety of clothes moths and the common variety of moths. This makes differentiating between them very difficult. There is however one point of difference that is held as a distinguishing feature between the two.
The case bearing moths possess a number of dark spots on their wings. This feature is absent in common cloth moths. The other feature that can be helpful in differentiating the case bearing cloth moths from the normal cloth moths is that in the adult form the case moths usually carry cases around them that grow larger as do they.
Clothes moths can fly high and wide but it has been seen in normal cases that when we make an attempt to capture them they usually try to escape by jumping around instead of flying away. While this facilitates affective pest control but this also stands out as a point of difference between the cloth moths and the other varieties of moths.
Identifying Cloth Moth Infestation
While identifying the cloth moths physically, it might not be a very daunting task but when they have already infested in our cloths it can be a bit difficult to identify the moths that are responsible for the patches on the cloth.
This is essential because all pest repellants do not have the same effects on all types of pests and therefore identification becomes very important. Let us now follow some simple and effective steps which will help us to identify an infestation particularly caused by a cloth moth.
You must have faced instances when your cloth shows more than one type of patches and holes. In such cases how will you identify the part that has been infested by a cloth moth or some other moth? In such cases look for buff-colored or golden colored moths which are around 1/2-inch long.
Wings will be narrow and folded around the body with hairs in line with their edges. These are the grown up adult clothes moths. The adults are not known to feed on the cloth fibers but if they are hovering around a region then be sure that eggs have been laid that will in turn be producing the fiber eating larvae.
The larvae can be identified with their color. They appear as 1/2 inch long caterpillars which are creamy-white in color. You can also recognize the webbing clothe moths larvae variety by the help of their feeding tunnels that they make of silk. These larvae can also be identified by the webbing patches that they leave after moving around on the fabric.
The small fecal pellets are the excretory products that have been left behind by the webbing cloth moths. These pellets appear in the same color as that of the color of the fabric and will require thorough scrutiny to identify the pellets and thereby the webbing cloth moths. The eggs laid by them are oval in shape and have ivory color.
The casing cloth moths will be seen carrying a case around them. Adult casing moths have a smaller wingspread than the webbing variety of clothes moth. They lack any hair tuft on their head and they are browner in color than the webbing cloth moths.
Finally, if you find small white caterpillars adjacent to the hard surface to the infested cloth be sure that these are the case moths looking to build their cocoons.