Moths of North Carolina
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View PDFTineidae Members: 1 NC Records

Tineola bisselliella (Hummel, 1823) - Webbing Clothes Moth


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Taxonomy
Superfamily: Tineoidea Family: TineidaeSubfamily: TineinaeTribe: [Tineini]P3 Number: 300181.00 MONA Number: 426.00
Comments: Tineola is a small genus with only two recognized species.
Identification
Field Guide Descriptions: Covell (1984)Online Photographs: MPG, BugGuide, iNaturalist, Google, BAMONA                                                                                 
Adult Markings: The adults are small, nondescript, moths that are most easily identified when associated with damage to carpeting, clothing, or other material. The mouth parts are reduced, and the maxillary palps are very short or missing. In contrast, the labial palps are well developed (Plarre and Kruger-Carstensen, 2011). The wings are lanceolate, with fringed ends and rear edges. The thorax, forewings, and legs are all pale straw yellow, while the head is a darker rusty yellow with a tuft. Some individuals have a faint outer discal dot (Forbes, 1923). The hindwings are grayish-yellow. The males are generally smaller than the females and have a few small tufts of hair on the last three abdominal segments.
Wingspan: 12-16 mm (Forbes, 1923; Kruger-Carstensen, 2011)
Forewing Length: 4 to 9 mm (Kruger-Carstensen, 2011)
Adult ID Requirements: Identifiable from good quality photos of unworn specimens.
Immatures and Development: The larvae most commonly feed on animal products such as carpeting, wool, or animal hides that contain keratin. They also consume associated debris that contains essential nutrients that are not found in keratin. The females lay clusters of eggs that hatch within a week or so depending on the temperature. The larvae live and feed either within silken tubes individually, or in a mat of fibers when feeding communally. Larval development can take from one month to more than two years depending on growth conditions (temperature; humidity; quality of food resources), but typically takes 4-6 months. Pupation occurs at the site where the larvae feed.
Larvae ID Requirements: Identifiable from close inspection of specimens or by DNA analysis.
Distribution in North Carolina
Distribution: Tineola bisselliella is native to the Old World, and perhaps but has been spread by humans to many areas of the world with temperate climates, including Europe and North America (Kruger-Carstensen, 2011). It is found throughout the US and southern Canada is association with humans and human dwellings. As of 2020, we have a single record for North Carolina. Sightings are undoubtedly under-reported in the state due to the pest status of this species.
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: Adults can be found year-round in homes that are heated.
Habitats and Life History
Habitats: This species is strongly associated with human dwellings and outbuildings.
Larval Host Plants: The larvae do not feed on living foliage. They are pests that feed on clothing, carpeting, and upholstery with wool, silk, or cotton. Cotton seems to be much less preferred than wool. The larvae also feed on grains, furs, taxidermy mounts, dried insects and other sources of dead organic matter, particularly those that are rich in keratin. They are known to occasionally exploit bird nests in the wild, where they presumably feed on feathers and associated debris (Kruger-Carstensen, 2011).
Observation Methods: This species is typically observed when damage is done to clothing, carpeting, taxidermy mounts and the like.
Wikipedia
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 introduced pest that does not merit protection.