Clothes moths

Tinea spp.


Secondary pest; Grain feeder
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Tineidae
Acronym: TSP

Classification of Tinea has been subject to review recently and Tinea pellionella is now known to be a complex of 11 species. We are treating the group as Tinea spp.


  • Adults' heads are covered with rough scales that give them a hairy appearance, a unique feature.
  • Adults' labial palps are not curved upwards.
  • Moths are generally light to dark brown with narrow forewings (rare to see adult moths, though).
  • Larvae are white and reach a length of 7 to 12 mm at maturity.

Similar species

Commodities affected

  • Occasionally found in grain with high moisture content
  • More commonly feeds on clothes, carpet, animal hair, feathers and animal remains
  • Is a more a pest of products that contain wool than it is of stored grain

Signs of infestation

  • Contamination of products with larva and pupal cases
  • Holes in wool articles


  • Damage is caused by larval feeding and is not distinctive.
  • Significant damage may be seen in clothes, carpets, tapestries and upholstery.

How to control

Geographic range

  • Is found worldwide, especially in temperate and Mediterranean areas
  • In Canada, some species, such as the large pale clothes moth (Tinea pallescentella), are more restricted in their distribution (British Columbia)
  • Have been found across Canada

Where found

  • Found in damp grain occasionally in mills, granaries, warehouses
  • Are more common in households, rodent and bird nests, stables

Life history

  • Adults do not feed and are short-lived.
  • Females lay eggs in crevices.
  • Larvae construct a spindle-shaped portable silk tube.
  • Larvae live and pupate in this tube.
  • Larvae are most likely found in damp areas.

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