Tinea Pellionella: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

Case-bearing clothes moth, also known as the Casemaking clothes moth or Webbing clothes moth, is a moth that lives in England, unique for thriving indoors and preying on carpets and clothing.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth Species Summary

Scientific NameTinea pellionella
Family NameTineidae
HabitatIndoors, birds’ nests, farms, roadsides
RangeUK, North America, Asia, Australia
Host MaterialCommon household items made from wool, synthetic materials, or plant-based fabric
Moth DescriptionSilvery, brownish, and gray, with a tiny spot on its wings
Caterpillar DescriptionTiny, with a silver casing, they drag around

What do clothes moths look like?

Tinea Pellionella: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth
Tinea Pellionella: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

The Casemaking clothes moth (Tinea pellionella) belongs to the class Insecta, subfamily Tineinae, superfamily Tineoidea, family Tineidae, order Lepidoptera, subphylum Uniramia.

An adult moth’s body has a subtle shade of silver, brown, and gray with dark markings all over it. Their bodies can reach a length of about 1/4 of an inch, while their wingspan can be as long as roughly half an inch.

Their forewings are covered in different shades of brown, with one large spot and multiple smaller spots all over the surface. On the other hand, the hindwings are a shade of brownish-gray with a few vague dark spots irregularly peppered on the entire area.

The top part of its rust or brown head has dark gray hair. Similarly, both the forewings and the hindwings have hairy fringes that span the entire costal area.

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Larva Physical Description

The Case-bearing clothes larvae have mouthparts capable of chewing different types of durable materials. They have a flat silken case attached to their bodies that they drag around. This case is woven out of silk or threads the caterpillars pull out from the materials they consume.

This makes them appear a bit bulkier than they usually are — with their legs and heads somewhat protruding from the open-ended tubular case.

A larva can be as long as half an inch when it reaches maturity before it transitions to the pupal stage.

Tinea Pellionella: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth
Tinea Pellionella: Case-Bearing Clothes Moth Caterpillar

How long does it take for the larva to develop?

On average, this moths’ life cycle stage can take as long as 3 months for one generation. Once they reach their full size, the larvae will create cocoons around their bodies and will stay there for a few weeks.

One of the main factors affecting this large time interval is the general climate conditions where the eggs are hatched. The weather also plays an important factor in the growth rates of larvae. Warmer weather leads to faster growth among the Case-bearing clothes moth caterpillars.

What areas do they like to frequent?

This is why you may see the Case-bearing clothes moth living and thriving in rubbish dumps, roadsides, urban areas, farms, and the following types of places:

  • Outbuildings
  • Bird’s nests, especially that of a domestic pigeon’s
  • Gardens 
  • Houses

Host Materials

The female Case-bearing clothes moths lay their eggs on different materials. The larvae will feed on these items that are currently seen in the household:

  • Woolen fabric
  • Synthetic materials with oils
  • Combination of animal fibers and synthetic materials
  • Upholstered furniture made of woolen fabrics or natural fibers
  • Keratin-based materials, such as hair and feathers
  • Vegetable produce
  • Plant-based fabrics


The following are some of the plants and plant materials that the Case-bearing clothes moths eat hemp, wool, fur, feathers, and many other materials, such:

  • Hair
  • Tobacco
  • Spices


As its name implies, the Case-bearing clothes moth uses wool and other types of fibers and materials to create a silken case to protect its body from external threats — especially its natural enemies. 

The Case-bearing clothes moths are synanthropic beings that prefer to live where humans are. So much so that their infestation causes significant destruction to household items. This is why they’re considered pests.

Because of their relatively short life cycle, the female Case-bearing clothes moths can only lay eggs once, singly or in small clusters.

Common Predators

Like other moth species, such as the Tineola bisselliella, the Case-bearing clothes moths have these as their natural enemies:

  • Small mammals
  • Spiders
  • Birds
  • Wasps 


There have been sightings of the Case-bearing clothes moth in the following locations:

  • UK
  • North America
  • Australia
  • Asia

When it comes to specific US states, they’re common in Texas.

How do you get rid of Tinea pellionella?

Control measures (chemical, physical, and biological) are set to reduce their numbers. The best advice is to use a moth repellent every season.

Additionally, the Case-bearing clothes moths love to live in darkness and hide in furniture, such as cabinets, drawers, and wardrobes; thus, vacuuming is one way to get rid of them when they start to increase in numbers.

Finally, you should deep-clean the area and store clothes correctly. If all else fails, call for professionals to help.

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