Have you ever across clothes that have holes in them? These small holes are more often than not caused by small bugs that eat fabric. There are many different types of bugs that eat clothes.
When you take out your favorite suit stored in the dark corners of your closet and find that small holes have formed on them, it is an indication that it has been infested by some bugs that eat clothes. They attack mainly naturally occurring fabric materials, but they never eat synthetic fibers. They attack synthetic clothes only if they find food stains, body oils and other such residues on which they can feed themselves.
There are different varieties of household bugs that can attack your clothes for food. Each of them have some unique physical features and characteristics.
Webbing Clothes Moth (Tineola Bisselliella)
This is one of the most common bugs that eat clothes. These are winged insects but rarely do they fly. The usual size of the moth is about 1-2 inches. Its body and wings are light brown in color and the wings are spotless. In general, the lifespan of an adult webbing clothes moth is 60-90 days. They may survive longer (a few days more) if the weather condition is cold.
Webbing Clothes Moths multiply at a very rapid pace. A female moth mates and lays eggs on the very same day. The eggs are laid in groups in between the threads or cracks of the clothing. These bugs do not like to get exposed to light and hide themselves in closed corners. They are found more in cotton and silk clothes and are less common in fur and woolen materials. Your clothes may get attacked by them at any time of the year but they become abundant in warm, summer climate.
Casemaking Clothes Moth (Tinea Pellionella)
The larva of this moth weaves a silk case around itself and if it is disturbed, it curls up inside the case and blend with the fabric. You may be surprised to know that it is the larvae that destroy the clothes and not the adults. The brown-headed larvae constantly move over the clothes in search of food. For this reason, the moth does not cause extensive damage to any one particular spot on the clothing. The larva eats clothes for almost 90 days and is found all through the year.
It has some similarities with webbing clothes moth. Like, its food habits are the same as the webbing clothes moth and it hates light too. However, it is smaller and the body size of an adult casemaking clothes moth is half an inch approximately. Its body has a darker shade of brown and there are spots on its wings that will help you to distinguish it from the webbing clothes moth.
Carpet Moth or Beetle
Carpet beetles are oval in shape and their size vary from 2 mm to 5 mm. The head of this beetle is white and its wings are of black and white with gray spots. Basically, they survive on dead animal products like wool, fur, silk, leather, etc. When the infestation of this bug is severe, it can damage large areas of the affected garment.
Life cycle of carpet moths are more or less same as the other two moths and it varies in between 65-90 days. The growth of these bugs are very slow and their size largely depends on the surrounding temperature and the quality of the food it eats. Their larva creates a silk tube through the hole made on the fabric and eat clothes inside it. Presence of these feeding tubes on the garment suggest that it has been infested by this particular moth.
1) Tapestry Moth: (Trichophaga tapetzella) a large clothes moth with a body size of about 19 mm and it damages coarse fabric materials only.
2) Termites: are known for eating up the wood of your furniture, but they feed themselves on your clothes too.
3) The Brown House Moth: (Hofmannophila pseudospretella) is commonly found on the interior walls of the house and they need animal proteins present in wool, feather and hair for their survival.
Now that you know the biological characteristics of these bugs, it will be much easier for you to identify them. You should always store the clothes inside tightly closed bags and containers to protect them from pest infestation. Moreover, keep the home environment clean to prevent these bugs from flourishing inside your house.