Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 1 NC Records

Trichophaga tapetzella (Linnaeus, 1758) - Carpet Moth

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Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: TineinaeTribe: [Tineini]P3 Number: 300166.00 MONA Number: 413.00
Comments: Trichophaga is a small genus with three recognized species that are native to Europe and northern Africa.
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: This is a distinctively marked species that is associated with human dwellings. The head and tuft is white, and the antenna light brown to grayish brown. The basal half of the forewing is dark brown to blackish, with a posterior margin that is posteriorly oblique. The apical half is cream-colored to white and overlain with light gray mottling. The apex has blackish marks in the form of a small blotch, or two or three small dots. The cilia are concolorous with the apical half of the forewing, and often have an incompletely formed dark line along the middle. The hindwing is uniformly light gray to grayish brown. The legs are dark above, with light and dark banding on the tarsi.
Immatures and Development: The larvae feed on substances that are rich in keratin such as wool carpets or animal fur. The eggs hatch in about 10 days and the larvae construct silk-lined burrows through the material that they are consuming. The larval stage can last from two months to up to two years depending on the temperature, humidity, and food source. The pupal stage is brief and occurs in the material being consumed.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos, especially where associated with known host plants.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Trichophaga tapetzella is native to Europe, but has been introduced to many areas of the world due to international shipments of wool, clothing, furs and other keratin-rich materials. This species does best it hot and humid environments, and the advent of modern air conditioning has greatly reduced populations in most areas of the world. This species has been found at scattered localities in North America, including British Columbia and much of the eastern US. As of 2020, we have one historical record from the Piedmont.
County Map: Clicking on a county returns the records for the species in that county.
Flight Dates:
 High Mountains (HM) ≥ 4,000 ft.
 Low Mountains (LM) < 4,000 ft.
 Piedmont (Pd)
 Coastal Plain (CP)

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Flight Comments: The adults can be found year-round, but are most common during the warmer months of the year.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is strongly associated with human dwellings.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae do not feed on living plant material and exploit natural and human-made materials that are rich in keratin. This species feeds on animal carcasses, owl pellets, scat, and other sources of hair or other keratin-rich materials in the wild. It can be a significant pest of human products that are rich in keratin such as carpeting, tapestries, taxidermy mounts, and leather goods.
Observation Methods: The adults are most often seen in the immediate vicinity of carpeting or other material that in infested with larvae.
Status in North Carolina
Natural Heritage Program Status:
Natural Heritage Program Ranks: GNR SNA
State Protection: Has no legal protection, although permits are required to collect it on state parks and other public lands.
Comments: This is an exotic species and does not merit protection.