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Common moth species

Moths may look small and harmless but they can cause surprising amounts of damage to your clothing and textiles and stored products in general.

In the U.S. there are a few species of moth in particular, which can cause problems in your home or business.

What is a moth?

Moths are in the same order as butterflies. They have big wings with scales on them. They go through four stages of life. Moth larvae are known as caterpillars. Learn about types of moths below.

Brown House Moth

(Hofmannophila pseudospretella)

It is very common to see Brown House moths in your home.

Brown House Moth Hofmannophila pseudopretella


  • Adult — 8–14 mm long.
  • Brown in color with three or four darker spots.
  • Larva — up to 20 mm long.
  • Larvae feed on animal textiles like wool, leather and feathers.


  • Normally one generation per year.


  • Larva may wander considerable distances prior to pupation.
  • Generally regarded as a scavenger.

Common Clothes Moth

(Tineola bisselliella)

The Common Clothes Moth larvae are responsible for making irregular holes in fabrics.

Common Clothes Moth


  • Adult — 6 – 8 mm long.
  • Straw colored wings with no markings.
  • Trailing edge of the wings is strongly fringed.
  • Larvae — up to 10 mm long. Creamy white with a brown head.


  • Egg to adult is usually about 6 weeks. May reach 10 to 18 months if the food is poor or temperatures are cold.


  • Adult does not feed. Runs rather than flies, avoids the light.

Case-Bearing Clothes Moth

(Tinea pellionella)

Yet another one of the types of moths, the Case-Bearing Clothes moth makes more regular holes in fabrics.

Case Bearing Clothes Moth


  • Adult — 6 - 8mm long.
  • Dark buff forewings with three faint spots (may appear as two).
  • Larvae — up to 10 mm long.  Creamy white in color.


  • Similar to the Common Clothes moth.


  • More rare than the Common Clothes moth. Check imported goods such as hides or objects of animal origin.

White-Shouldered House Moth

(Endrosis sarcitrella)

White-Shouldered House moths are generally less damaging to textiles.

Cheryl Moorehead, individual,


  • Adult — 6 to 10mm long.
  • White head with mottled wings.
  • Larvae— up to 12 mm long.  Cream colored larvae with red-brown head.
  • Pupa — in a silk cocoon.


  • Normally one generation per year.


  • Often found in unheated outdoor buildings.
  • Larvae scavenge on a wide range of foods.

Moth vs butterfly

It can be difficult to distinguish a moth from a butterfly, but observing the antennae can help. The antennae of a butterfly are shaped like clubs. Butterflies are also usually bigger than moths with wings that have more color (although moths can still be colorful). In addition, moths commonly fly at night but butterflies commonly fly during the day.

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