Case bearing moth larvae can be a nuisance in your home, as they feed on various materials, including clothing and fabrics, causing potential damage to your belongings. These little critters are small, white caterpillars with brown heads, often found in dark and undisturbed areas. Clothes Moths are especially attracted to materials containing proteins like wool, silk, and fur.
To effectively get rid of these pesky insects, it’s important to understand their life cycle and habits. This way, you can tackle the problem at its root cause and prevent future infestations. In this article, we will discuss a few methods to eliminate case bearing moth larvae from your home, ensuring a cleaner and safer living environment.
A key aspect of dealing with case bearing moth larvae is thorough cleaning and regular inspection of areas prone to infestation. By maintaining a clean and well-organized home, you can prevent larvae from finding suitable places to grow and multiply, thus protecting your valuables from potential damage.
Identifying Case Bearing Moth Larvae
There are multiple moth species that fall under the case-bearing category, one of which is the Tinea pellionella. These moths are also known as casemaking moths.
The case bearing moth larvae are distinguishable by their unique features:
- Small in size
- White or cream in color
- Brown head
- Build cases around themselves, using materials from their environment
Cases differ depending on the moth species and their surroundings.
The moths themselves can be identified based on their physical features. For example, Tinea pellionella moths have the following traits:
- Wingspan of around 1/2 inch
- Yellowish in color
- Narrow wings
- Long hairs along the wing edges
|Size (wingspan)||Approximately 1/2 inch|
|Hairs on wing edges||Long|
Keep in mind that the adult moth’s appearance helps determine the appearance and behavior of their larvae. Identifying the adult moth is crucial for successful case bearing moth larvae control.
Causes of Infestation
Case bearing moth larvae primarily feed on natural fibers containing keratin, a protein found in materials like:
These protein-rich materials are commonly found in clothing, carpets, and various household items. Pantry moths, on the other hand, prefer food sources such as grains, cereals, and dried fruits.
Clothing and Fabrics
Moth infestations often start in areas where clothing and fabrics made of fur, wool, silk, and cotton are stored. They lay their eggs on these materials, leading to an increase in larvae presence. Here are some examples:
- Dresser drawers
- Storage containers
|Clothes Moths||Case Bearing Moth Larvae|
|Prefer wool||Feed on various materials|
|Lay eggs in confined spaces||Produce webbing and cocoons|
Indoor conditions play a significant role in case bearing moth larvae infestations:
- Temperature: Ideal for moth larvae growth; they prosper in warm, dark conditions.
- Humidity: High humidity levels increase the likelihood of an infestation, as it provides the perfect environment for larvae to thrive.
- Clutter and poor ventilation: A cluttered space with limited airflow enables moths and larvae to hide, undisturbed, prolonging the infestation.
Maintaining a clean and well-ventilated living space, along with proper storage of clothing and fabrics, can help prevent and control moth infestations.
Damage Caused by Moth Larvae
Moth larvae, particularly those of the casemaking clothes moth, can cause significant damage to clothing. They feed on the proteins found in natural fibers like wool, silk, and cotton. These larvae are attracted to garments with:
- Body oils
When feeding, the larvae can create small holes in clothes, ruining their appearance. They prefer dark, undisturbed areas like the corners of closets or drawers.
Carpet and Fabric Damage
In addition to clothes, moth larvae can also cause damage to carpets and other fabrics. Carpet beetle larvae tend to chew holes through fabric, while clothes moth larvae prefer to graze along the surface.
Damage to carpets and fabrics often occurs in areas that are less accessible or not frequently disturbed, such as:
- Under furniture
- Along baseboards
- In closets
Moth larvae are not limited to damaging clothes and fabrics. Some moth larvae like pantry moth types infest and contaminate food items like grains, cereals, and flour.
When dealing with moths, it’s essential to identify the type of moth larvae involved to assess the potential damage and take appropriate control measures.
Prevention and Control Methods
Cleaning and Vacuuming
One of the most effective ways to avoid an infestation of case bearing moth larvae is by regular cleaning and vacuuming. Focus on areas where fibers, dust, and hair accumulate, such as:
- Under furniture
- Along baseboards
- In closets and drawers
By eliminating their food sources, you can prevent moth larvae from thriving and multiplying. Also, consider washing and storing clothes in sealed containers, especially if they’re made from natural fibers like wool, silk, and fur.
Moth Traps and Pheromones
Using moth traps can also help control moth larvae populations. These traps often use pheromones to attract adult moths, preventing them from laying eggs. Some effective moth traps include:
- Sticky pheromone traps
- Funnel-shaped traps
Moth traps are a non-toxic and pesticide-free option that specifically targets moths, reducing the risk to other beneficial insects.
|Moth Trap Type||Pros||Cons|
|Sticky pheromone trap||Non-toxic, easy setup, targets adult moth||Must replace frequently, not reusable|
|Funnel trap||Reusable, efficient||More expensive, harder to find|
There are several natural repellants that can deter moths and protect your clothing and belongings. Place these aromatic herbs in closets, drawers, or storage containers:
- Bay leaves
- Vinegar (diluted)
These natural repellants are a safe and eco-friendly method to prevent moth infestations. Remember to replace them regularly to maintain their effectiveness.
In summary, by maintaining cleanliness, using moth traps, and applying natural repellants, you can effectively prevent and control case bearing moth larvae.
Treatment and Removal Techniques
Professional Pest Control Services
Hiring a professional pest control service can be very effective in eliminating a case bearing moth larvae infestation. They have access to specialized products and methods that are more efficient than common home remedies. Some examples include:
- Pesticide treatments: Targets moth larvae and eggs more effectively than over-the-counter products
- Heat treatments: Professionals can raise temperatures enough to kill larvae and eggs without damaging fabrics
- More effective and efficient
- Guaranteed results
- Can be expensive
- May use chemicals
If you prefer not to hire a professional, you can try several home remedies to control case bearing moth larvae:
- Freezing: Place infested items in airtight plastic bags and freeze them for at least 48 hours
- Vacuuming: Vacuum storage areas regularly to remove eggs and larvae
- Low cost
- No use of chemicals
- Less effective and time-consuming
- Requires ongoing effort
Sample comparison table for heat treatments and freezing:
|Heat Treatment||More effective; Less time-consuming||Requires professional service; May damage delicate fabrics|
|Freezing||Safe for fabrics; No chemicals used||Less effective; Time-consuming|
Moth Proofing Storage
Prevention can be as essential as treatment. Here are some moth prevention strategies for storage:
Key features of moth-proofing storage:
- Airtight containers keep out moths, larvae, and eggs
- Moth traps attract and capture adult moths, preventing further reproduction
Life Cycle and Habits of Case Bearing Moths
- Female moths lay small, white eggs on suitable food sources for larvae.
- Eggs hatch within 4-10 days depending on the environment.
- Shiny white larvae with dark-colored head capsules.
- Feed on various fibers and textiles.
- Develop through 5-45 instars depending on the species.
- Use webbing to create protective silken cases or tubes.
- Larval stage lasts between 35 days to 2.5 years based on environmental factors. 1
|Stage||Webbing Clothes Moth||Casemaking Clothes Moth|
|Larva||Temporary feeding tube||Permanent silken case|
- Tiny, yellowish adult moths with 1/2 inch wingspan.
- Male moths are more active flyers than female moths.
- Adults typically do not feed, living for only 30 days on average.
- Females lay eggs before dying, completing the life cycle.
Pros and Cons of Common Control Methods:
|Traps||Non-toxic, attract adults||Will not control larvae directly|
|Vacuum||Removes eggs, larvae, webs||May not reach all hidden areas|
|Freeze||Kills all life stages||Requires freezing infested items|
Additional Information and Resources
Common Types of Moths in Homes
There are several moth species that can infest homes in North America, and two of the most common moths are the webbing clothes moth and the Indian meal moth:
- Webbing Clothes Moth (Tineola bisselliella): This moth is known to damage fabric, and does not create cases for its larvae. Learn more about webbing clothes moths here.
- Indian Meal Moth (Plodia interpunctella): Often found infesting food products in pantries, this moth is a common North American pest. Discover more about Indian meal moths.
Identifying Indian Meal Moth and Mediterranean Food Moth
When distinguishing between Indian meal moths and Mediterranean food moths, pay attention to their appearance:
Indian Meal Moth:
- Coppery-brown wingtips.
- 1/2-inch wingspan.
- Larvae are off-white with brown heads.
Mediterranean Food Moth:
- Grayish-brown wings.
- 1/3-inch wingspan.
- Larvae are white with reddish-brown heads.
Here’s a comparison table to help you differentiate:
|Feature||Indian Meal Moth||Mediterranean Food Moth|
|Wing Color||Coppery-brown wingtips||Grayish-brown wings|
|Larvae Color||Off-white with brown heads||White with reddish-brown heads|
Both species can cause infestations, but addressing the issue early can minimize damage to food items and fabrics within your home.
Over the years, our website, whatsthatbug.com has received hundreds of letters and some interesting images asking us about these insects. Scroll down to have a look at some of them.
Letter 1 – Case Bearing Moth Larva
Subject: Weird worm creature
January 17, 2015 9:47 am
Hi there… I hope you can help identify this creature in my bathroom… It’s only seen in my bathroom. It freaks me out. Please help identify this.
About 1.5cm long. Has a leaf shaped soft shell it can crawl out from both ends.
Signature: Sandra from Singapore
The Case Bearing Moth Larva or Household Casebearer, Phereoeca fallax, is a common household pest that is found in many parts of the world. You individual has a very distinctly marked case. According to BugGuide: “The larval case is silk-lined inside and open at both ends. The case is constructed by the earliest larval stage (1st instar) before it hatches, and is enlarged by each successive instar. In constructing the case, the larva secretes silk to build an arch attached at both ends to the substrate. Very small particles of sand, soil, iron rust, insect droppings, arthropod remains, hairs and other fibers are added on the outside. The inside of the arch is lined exclusively by silk, and is gradually extended to form a tunnel, while the larva stays inside. The tunnel is closed beneath by the larva to form a tube free from the substrate, and open at both ends. After the first case is completed, the larva starts moving around, pulling its case behind. With each molt, the larva enlarges its case. Later cases are flattened and widest in the middle, allowing the larva to turn around inside.” The bold black and white spiral pattern on your individual’s case is likely due to fibers that were incorporated in the making of the case.
Letter 2 – Case Bearing Moth Larva
Help identifying a bug please
Location: Seattle WA
December 26, 2010 9:48 pm
I found these bugs underneath our bed while we were cleaning the house. They look like worms and they move by extending something from one end of their body and pulling themselves forward. Do you know what they are? My wife is freaking about this discovery.
This is a Case Bearing Moth Larva in the subfamily Tineinae, and we believe it is a Casemaking Clothes Moth, Tinea pellionella. According to BugGuide, they: “Feed on wool, feathers, fur, hair, upholstered furniture, leather, fish meals, milk powders, lint, dust or paper.“ Judging by the quantity of pet hair in your photo, they have an ample food supply. Vacuuming under the bed more regularly to control pet hair should reduce the number of Case Bearing Moth Larvae you find in your home.
Thank you for the quick response Daniel, you’re awesome! 🙂 I’ll be making a donation to your website!
Letter 3 – Case Bearing Moth Larva
This thing is about half an inch long, and there were two of them, in an old cream-cheese lid…. I had picked it up to throw it out, but got distracted and put it down next to me, and then I noticed the pieces of dirt were moving…. not only that the worm like thing can come out of either side! Anyone know what this thing is? One of them escaped, but I got photos of the remaining one….. he was about to crawl off of my workbench, but I caught him…they seem very aware… the worm part doesn’t come out unless you stop moving.
This is a Case Bearing Moth Larva. We get blurry photos and pumpkin seed descriptions all the time from all over the world. Your photo is quite exceptional.
Regarding the “case bearing moth larva” posted 04/10/2007); you might want to add that these insects also go by the names “household casebearer” and “plaster bagworm.” Most of these found in the United States likely are in the genus Phereoeca, but the genus Praececodes also has been reported from the southern USA. See http://creatures.ifas.ufl.edu/urban/occas/household_casebearer.htm for more detailed information.
Sinks Grove, WV.
Letter 4 – Case Bearing Moth Larva
Subject: What is this?
Location: Rancho Bernardo, San Diego, CA
January 31, 2016 12:39 pm
I have found a few of these in my home.
What are they.
Signature: Dave Douthett
This is a Household Casebearer, Phereoeca uterella, a common household pest. According to BugGuide: “The larval case is silk-lined inside and open at both ends. The case is constructed by the earliest larval stage (1st instar) before it hatches, and is enlarged by each successive instar. In constructing the case, the larva secretes silk to build an arch attached at both ends to the substrate. Very small particles of sand, soil, iron rust, insect droppings, arthropod remains, hairs and other fibers are added on the outside. The inside of the arch is lined exclusively by silk, and is gradually extended to form a tunnel, while the larva stays inside. The tunnel is closed beneath by the larva to form a tube free from the substrate, and open at both ends. After the first case is completed, the larva starts moving around, pulling its case behind. With each molt, the larva enlarges its case. Later cases are flattened and widest in the middle, allowing the larva to turn around inside.”
Letter 5 – Case Bearing Moth Larvae from UK
Worm like creature
Location: Newport, South Wales , United Kingdom
May 10, 2011 8:10 am
After recently cleaning under my bed (The first time in a while) I came across a worm like creature no longer than _____ this space when constricted.
They appear to have what seems to be some material wrapped around their torso for protection/domicile/cocooning and stretch outward to pull much like a snail does.
I found them mostly individually and around collections of dust.
I would like to know what this bug may be and whether I may have a possible infestation ?
I found close to thirty of them in my bedroom, the warmest room in the house.
Thank you for any feedback you could give me.
Signature: Mr R Heaney
Dear Mr R Heaney,
You have relatively benign Case Bearing Moth Larvae. They feed on natural animal fibers, and while it is possible that they might damage a wool rug, they are more likely than not feeding upon shed pet hair. Vacuuming more regularly should help to control their prodigious numbers.
Letter 6 – Case Bearing Moth Larva from Malaysia
Subject: Bizarre flat bug
Geographic location of the bug: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Time: 11:49 PM EDT
Your letter to the bugman: I saw this little guy in my shower- tiny and flat. It pulled it’s head inside like a turtle when I touched it with a tissue. Any idea what it is??
How you want your letter signed: Allison in KL
This is a Case Bearing Moth Larva and they are found in homes in many parts of the world. According to BugGuide: “Larvae feed on old spider webs; may also eat woolen goods of all kinds if the opportunity arises.”
Letter 7 – Case Bearing Moth Larvae in Bunny Hutch!!!
Subject: Casebearers in my bunny’s hutch
Location: Irvine, CA
April 8, 2013 10:08 am
They reappear every night. I sweep them up at about 10PM, see nothing the next day, and find them again the following night. I swept these up from the floor and surrounding area of my bunny’s hutch. I keep an eye on the spider webs in there, so I think they’re feeding off of her fur (she is shedding profusely due to the transition to warm weather). I’m thinking of sticking some ’natural remedies’ in there, since sweeping them up and cleaning the premises is not doing the job.
As per your request, here are photos of last night’s collection. You don’t have to post this letter if you don’t want to. I mostly just wanted to give you the context of the picture. The first is right after I swept them up. In the second, taken five minutes later, you’ll notice that they start piling on each other.
Thanks for sending us your photos of the Casebearer infestation you have in your bunny hutch. The photos are much more effective than your descriptive comment to our posting of Casebearers eating a Dog Biscuit.
Letter 8 – Case Bearing Moth Larva
Subject: Debris wearing Caterpillar?
Geographic location of the bug: Marysville, WA
Time: 02:06 AM EDT
My daughter found this on her pillow. Can you please identify and let us know if we should be worried about infestation or hazards.
How you want your letter signed: Thank you, Ronda Henderson
This is a Case Bearing Moth Larva, and they are frequently found in homes where they feed on pet hair and other organic materials. They can be a nuisance if they are plentiful. We have a funny image in our archives of a large group of Case Bearing Moth Larvae feeding on pet food.
Letter 9 – Case Bearing Moth Larvae
Location: ireland, dublin – ceiling and under beds
November 30, 2011 3:42 pm
dear mr. bugman
for many years now i have had these white small 1cm size chrysalis hanging from my ceiling and now i have uncovered them under the beds, along with oodles of small black piles…? they seem to like leather and clothing under the beds but i have never seen them produce anything like a moth or worm? can you advise
I do not think them any harm but wonder if they contribute to my asthma and allergies, dust mites etc
Signature: debbie m
These are Case Bearing Moth Larvae, a common creature found in homes worldwide. While we do not believe they contribute directly to your asthma, they often feed on organic debris like shed hair from pets as well as people. The accumulation of debris under beds and various other places might be contributing to your asthma, and the Case Bearing Moth Larvae are just symptoms of a pre-existing dust problem in your home.
Really interesting! Do you mean the moth lives inside the casing and moves about in it? As I have never seen any moths in the house or anything emerge from them? Are they living and moving about in the white case
Hi again Debbie,
The case is spun by the larva and occasionally incorporates sand and debris in its construction. The larva lives in the case. Eventually the larva will pupate in the case. Perhaps they have never had a chance to emerge as tiny adult moths because you have discovered them and cleaned them away. It is possible that Case Bearing Moth Larvae my eat organic fibers and protein, hence being considered Household Pests.
Letter 10 – Case Bearing Moth Larva from South Africa
Subject: Creepy Crawly
Location: Durban South Africa
March 3, 2014 9:34 am
I found these in the bathroom at night, they don’t seem to have legs but somehow can climb vertically, it crawls along by sticking its head out , grabbing hold of something and pulling itself forward , if you blow on it it retreat inside it’s shell and then sticks its head out of the other end, or is it double headed. I have a short video of this but I will send you a high def photo.
Signature: Lyn James
This Case Bearing Moth Larva is either Phereoeca fallax or a closely related species. See BugGuide for a comparison image. According to BugGuide: “Larval cases can be found on wool rugs and wool carpets, hanging on curtains, or under buildings, hanging from subflooring, joists, sills and foundations; also found on exterior of buildings in shaded places, under farm sheds, under lawn furniture, on stored farm machinery, and on tree trunks” and “larvae feed on old spider webs; may also eat woolen goods of all kinds if the opportunity arises.” We also believe the larvae will eat shed pet hair as well as human hair and other organic substances found in the home, and we have received documentation of Case Bearing Moth Larvae feeding on pet food.
Daniel thanks for the info,and the speedy response, that is fascinating, nobody around here has ever seen these thing before.
Letter 11 – Case Bearing Moth Larva, we believe, from Australia
Subject: Never seen anything like it.
Location: Victoria, Australia
December 9, 2014 3:19 pm
I have no idea what this bug is. I’m pretty sure they’re falling out of my roof through the fan in my bathroom.
It doesn’t necessarily look like a bug but they do move.
It’s about as long as a thumb nail and looks like a dirty bit of roof insulation.
We can’t imagine that this is anything other than a Case Bearing Moth Larva, though it looks different from individuals we are used to seeing, perhaps because it is using distinctly Australian building materials.
Letter 12 – Case Bearing Moth Larvae
Subject: Weird flat pod/larve
Location: Southern California
December 17, 2012 11:22 am
I occasionally see these flat larvae looking things in my house in Southern California. Sometimes on the walls or near window sills. These are dead, but when found alive I’ve seen a little proboscis moving in and out of the end. I’ve never seen these before until they started turning up recently.
You have Case Bearing Moth Larvae, Phereoeca uterella, and there is conflicting information as to whether they are benign inhabitants or actual Household Pests. They do feed on organic matter and we consider them to be scavengers that feed on shed pet hair and other organic matter that they encounter in their foraging. The common name used on BugGuide is the Household Casebearer and this information is provided: “larvae feed on old spider webs; may also eat woolen goods of all kinds if the opportunity arises.”
Wow, thanks for the quick response. I dug around on whatsthatbug for a while but really had no idea what category to look under.
Letter 13 – Case Bearing Moth Larva found in Silverlake, Los Angeles
November 13, 2014
Dear Mr. Marlos:
I found the attached, tiny cocoon-like item in my sink (of all places) the other day. When i pressed on it, out came the pictured worm. I don’t know whether to be sorry that I interrupted its chrysalis sleep or not. I suppose it depends on whether it was destined to be a beautiful butterfly or a garden pest. Can you help me to (hopefully) alleviate my guilt?
Dear Mr. Kulkis,
How nice to hear from you. This is a Case Bearing Moth Larva and it is a common household intruder. We have one amazing image in our archives of a pack of Case Bearing Moth Larvae eating a dog biscuit.