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Signs of a Fabric Pest Infestation

Evidence of a fabric pest infestation may commonly be found in carpets and other stored products made from natural fibers. Identifying problems with fabric pests becomes even easier once you know the signs to look for and where.

Regular inspections and monitoring will help to identify a problem early to ensure fast and effective fabric pest treatment. This will help to reduce the risk of long term damage to sensitive and valuable items, even leather book bindings and woodwind instruments.

Fabric pest activity

Signs of damage may only become visible after an infestation has long been established. Clothes moth and carpet beetle larvae feed deep in the carpet pile in dark and undisturbed areas, meaning infestations may go undetected for years, particularly if the areas are not regularly cleaned.

If you have items in your home or business that could be at risk, it is critical to regularly look for other visible signs of an infestation to identify a problem early.

Signs of activity

  • Live or dead adult insects - such as carpet beetles or fabric moths, often found gathered around window openings are an indication of an infestation. To confirm their presence, move heavy items of furniture to expose carpet underneath. Look for moths that may scurry or fly from behind or underneath furniture.

  • Feces and shed skin - carpet beetle larvae produce fecal pellets about the size of a salt grain and shed brown shell like cast skins. These will be concentrated in the source area of infestation. Part the carpet pile to expose the backing in several areas under furniture, around skirtings and in corners, and examine for the presence of insect droppings. Examine the surface of the carpet in the same areas for loose or eaten pile and insect debris such as silk threads, cocoons, tubes, cases and cast skins. Carpet pile can be removed by vacuuming in areas of severe infestation.

  • Larvae - fabric pest larvae prefer to hide in quiet, dark, undisturbed locations such as under large items of furniture (that are not often moved) or in wardrobes or closets. Carpet beetle larvae have alternate light and brown striped bodies and are covered with dense tufts of hair – giving them the nickname “woolly bears”.

  • Eggs - check for eggs of fabric pests, as they are often laid in air ducts, cupboards, wardrobes, under furniture as well as on textiles and fabrics. However, eggs are very difficult to see by the untrained eye.


Fabric pests are usually attracted to natural fabric items such as carpets, tapestries, rugs, leather book bindings, upholstered furniture, silks and feathered items. Their presence will usually be indicated by insect debris (droppings and/or silk threads) around the damaged area.

  • Rugs - The most common item that gets damaged by fabric pests are woolen rugs. As woolen rugs can be expensive, it is strongly recommend you check them frequently for signs of fabric pests.

  • Woolen products - In general, untreated woollens stored unprotected in cupboards for several months are more prone to insect damage. Wool textiles in frequent use and regularly washed or dry cleaned are unlikely to suffer damage from fabric pests unless infestations occur nearby.

  • Knitted goods - Insect damage to fabrics and fine knitted goods usually takes the form of irregular shaped holes where yarns have been completely severed and eaten, much like the damage small caterpillars can do to leaves of plants.

  • Other items at risk - include pillows, mattresses, cushions and furniture with traditional fillings such as feathers or horse hair. Brushes and paint brushes made with natural bristles, and pads and felts in woodwind instruments (especially if stored for long periods of time) may also be found with damage.

Have you noticed these signs?

Call Ehrlich free at 1-800-837-5520 for fast treatment for fabric pests.

Trusted for over 85 years, our technicians have all the expertise needed to bring an infestation safely and quickly under control.

We will identify the exact fabric pest species invading your home or business.

With access to leading innovative processes we will ensure effective treatment, which will prevent future re-infestations.

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Types of fabric pests