Case Bearing Moth on Walls: Quick Solutions for a Pest-Free Home

Case-bearing moths are a common household pest known for their destructive larvae.

The larvae, small white caterpillars with brown heads, create cases from the materials they feed on, often causing damage to clothing or upholstery.

These moths may also be found on walls, where their larvae can cause harm to wallpapers or wall hangings.

Case Bearing Moth on Walls
Case Bearing Moth Larva

They feed on various materials, making them a widespread concern for homeowners. For instance, they can target a range of fabrics, from wool to silk.

To prevent infestations, proper storage and regular cleaning of textiles are essential.

Additionally, maintaining low humidity levels can deter case-bearing moths from settling in your home.

Case Bearing Moth on Walls Identification

Physical Characteristics

The two most common species of case-bearing moths are Tineola bisselliella and Pheropeica uterella. They have some distinct features:

  • Flattened body
  • Forewings with fringe
  • Small wingspan

Tineola bisselliella adult moths are gold with reddish-golden hairs1, while Pheropeica uterella has a mottled pattern on its wings2.

A comparison of their features can be seen below:

FeatureTineola bisselliellaPheroeca uterella
Wingspanapproximately 1/2 inch1similar size2
Body colorgold with reddish-golden hairs1grayish-white with a mottled pattern2
Markingsrow of golden hairs fringing the wings1small dark spot near the wing tip2

Lifecycle

Both species have a similar lifecycle:

  1. Eggs laid on fabric or other surfaces1
  2. Larvae hatch and create a silken case1
  3. Larvae undergo several molts before pupation1
  4. Adult moths emerge and mate1

Larvae of both species are nearly identical, but Pheropeica uterella always carry a silken case1.

Case Bearing Moth Larva, we presume

Taxonomy and Distribution

Case-bearing moths belong to:

  • Order: Lepidoptera
  • Family: Tineidae3

These moths are found globally, affecting homes and other structures3. They prefer dark, undisturbed areas1.

Feeding Habits and Habitat

Food Sources

Case-bearing moths, specifically their larvae, primarily feed on natural fibers such as:

  • Fur: Animal fur can be found in various items, like clothing and stuffed toys.
  • Wool: Commonly used in carpets, blankets, and clothing.
  • Hair: Including human hair, which can be found in brushes or fallen strands.
  • Silk: A material used in various fabrics like clothing and bedsheets.
  • Feathers: Often used in pillows and duvets.

Additionally, these larvae can also consume:

  • Cotton: A relatively common fiber used in clothing and linens.
  • Lint: Accumulated fibers in corners and crevices.

Larvae of the case-bearing moth, Tineola bisselliella, are known to feed on keratin, which is found in animal hairs and feathers.

Preferred Living Spaces

Case-bearing moth larvae prefer living in:

  • Crevices: Dark, hidden spaces where they can spin their protective cases.
  • Wool carpets: A perfect blend of food and shelter for the larvae.
  • Soil and sand: They can sometimes be found in soil or sandy areas with ample access to water.

Types of Case Bearing Moths

Tinea Pellionella

Tinea pellionella, also known as the casemaking clothes moth, is a small moth with a 1/2 inch wingspan and a yellowish color.

It is prevalent in many regions across the US. The larvae are small, white caterpillars with brown heads feeding on the surfaces of infested material.

Case Bearing Moth Larva

Features:

  • Small size
  • 1/2 inch wingspan
  • Yellowish color
  • White larvae with brown heads

Plaster Bagworm Moths

Plaster bagworm moths, also known as household casebearers (Phereoeca dubitatrix), are similar to other case bearing moths.

They build protective cases from fibers, debris, and silk, attaching them to walls and other surfaces.

The larvae are responsible for feeding on fabric and fibers.

Characteristics:

  • Protective cases made from fibers, debris, and silk
  • Feed on fabric and fibers
  • Common in southern states like Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, and South Carolina

Webbing Clothes Moths

Webbing Clothes Moths, such as Tineola bisselliella, live and feed on a variety of materials, including natural fibers, synthetic textiles, and other organic materials.

Signs and Symptoms of Infestation

Visible Evidence

When dealing with a case bearing moth infestation, you might notice some visible signs on your walls, such as:

  • Small, white eggs
  • Faint silvery trails left by caterpillars

These signs are an indication that the moths have laid their eggs on the walls, and their larvae are beginning their life cycle.

Damage to Clothes and Materials

The most evident sign of a case bearing moth infestation is the damage they cause to your clothes and other materials. You may notice:

  • Small holes in clothing, upholstery, and other fabrics
  • Shed skins from the caterpillars

An example of damage could be a small hole in a wool sweater.

Case Bearing Moth Larva

Pupal Cases and Caterpillars

Another crucial sign of infestation is finding pupal cases and caterpillars around your home. They can often be found in:

  • Cracks and crevices
  • Spider webs
  • Cocoons among clothes or debris

Keep an eye out for small, cigar-shaped cases that house the moth larvae.

As a quick comparison between a clothes moth infestation and a case bearing moth infestation:

 Clothes MothCase Bearing Moth
EggsCreamy whiteSmall, white
Damage to clothesIrregular holesSmall holes
Infestation sizeLargerSmaller

To handle an infestation:

  • Vacuum regularly, reaching crocks and crevices
  • Clean infested areas thoroughly to remove debris and eggs

While both pests require similar approaches, knowing the signs of each can help you identify the specific type of infestation you’re facing.

Prevention and Treatment

Cleaning Techniques

Regular cleaning is vital to prevent case bearing moths from infesting your walls. For example:

  • Vacuum regularly: Clean carpets, upholstered furniture, and walls to remove moth eggs and larvae.
  • Maintain low humidity: Keep humidity levels below 50% by using a dehumidifier or opening a window.
  • Deal with stains: Clean sweat, insect droppings, and other stains that could attract moths.
  • Check for nests: Inspect your home for bird nests, as they are common breeding grounds for moths.

Moth Traps and Pheromones

Using moth traps and pheromones can help in both prevention and treatment. Some advantages and disadvantages of using these methods include:

Case Bearing Moth Larva

Pros

  • Non-toxic and pesticide-free
  • Targets specific moth species
  • Easy to apply and monitor

Cons

  • Requires regular replacement
  • Might not attract all moth species
  • Can be expensive over time

A moth killer kit containing pheromone traps can be an effective tool for treating existing infestations and preventing new ones.

Pest Control Services

Hiring a pest control service can be a more comprehensive solution for treating case bearing moth infestations.

Some factors to consider when choosing a pest control service are:

  • Experience: Look for a service with a history of successfully treating moth infestations.
  • Techniques: Ensure they use safe and effective methods, such as targeted treatments for carpet moths and case bearing moths.
  • Warranty: Verify if they offer a guarantee for their work.

Conclusion

In conclusion, combining cleaning techniques, moth traps with pheromones, and professional pest control services can effectively prevent and treat case bearing moth infestations on walls.

Keep the environment clean, maintain low humidity, monitor for moth activity, and consult a professional if the problem persists.

Footnotes

  1. Clothes Moths Management Guidelines 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

  2. Case-bearing Clothes Moth – Pheropeica uterella 2 3 4

  3. Tineidae Family Overview 2

Reader Emails

Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about case bearing moths. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.

Letter 1 – Household Casebearer Moth Larva from Bangladesh

Subject:  Is this bug harmful?  My family members are afraid of it.
Geographic location of the bug:  Bangladesh
Date: 08/03/2018
Time: 03:56 AM EDT
Your letter to the bugman:  This type of bugs I found on my floor for the first time. They moves here and there and all over my home.
A larva outs it’s head frequently and moves.
How you want your letter signed:  Please let me know is it harmful or not including its name and species. Thanks in advance.

Household Casebearer Moth Larva

This is a Household Casebearer Moth Larva in the family Tineidae, a cosmopolitan household intruder that is a nuisance, but it is not dangerous.  According to Featured Creatures:  “Many species in this family are casebearers and a few are indoor pests of hair fibers, woolens, silks, felt and similar materials.”

Thanks a lot for your kind and quick reply.
I’m greatful to you.

Letter 2 – Mealy Moth

Hi!
Years ago we brought a bug into our house in some paper products. It had three stages – the egg, the moth, and what looks like the cocoon after the moth leaves it. (I’m kinda remembering that there was a worm stage, too?) It infested every area of our house and took drastic measures to get rid of.

The moths seemed to like dark places and this is the stage we are seeing now in our house. I purchased a different brand of toilet paper and found some strange hump-like places in one of the rolls and little pieces of the paper fell out. Our first infestation was in Oregon and we live in Montana now.

I was hoping to see a picture of the moth on your website but did not find it. Is what I am describing possibly called something different? If you can’t answer my questions, do you know of who I could go to for help?
Thank You and Blessed Holidays,
Pat

Hi Pat,
Webbing Clothes Moths (Family Tineidae) can be found wherever organic textiles are stored. They are the moths famous for destroying fine wool sweaters and suits. They will also eat cotton, but prefer wool. It is the caterpillar stage that does the damage.


There is a another moth called the Case-Bearing Clothes Moth, Tinea pellionella, that can be identified by the case it carries. The structure is an elongate flattened sac that is made of silk and is slightly splayed at the open end. The larvae carry this case about with them and eventually pupate within. They are often found is wool and silk, but they could possibly feed off of cotton products.


The Indian Meal Moth, on the other hand, is just one of several Pyralid or Pantry Moths that infest stored food products. The adults resemble small generic moths that can be found on the inside of cupboard doors as well as fluttering aroung lights in the house at night.

The larval form is a small white caterpillar that infests the food products. One species, the Meal Moth, Pyralis farinalis, has larvae that build silken tubes or cases that are mixed with food debris. I once had a disgusting box of cornmeal that was totally infested. The Indian Meal Moth lives in the food source within masses of webbing.


Sorry we have no photos since our readers to send them in. Usually a description will suffice in the case of these destructive house pests.

Authors

    by
  • Bugman

    Bugman aka Daniel Marlos has been identifying bugs since 1999. whatsthatbug.com is his passion project and it has helped millions of readers identify the bug that has been bugging them for over two decades. You can reach out to him through our Contact Page.

  • Piyushi Dhir

    Piyushi is a nature lover, blogger and traveler at heart. She lives in beautiful Canada with her family. Piyushi is an animal lover and loves to write about all creatures.

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