Case bearing carpet moths (tinea pellionella) don’t get as much attention as their clothes-eating cousins, but their damage can be just as upsetting and expensive if they find their way into your home.
The main way carpet moths spread from house to house is through their microscopic eggs being picked up on our shoes. Simply taking off your shoes before entering the main part of your house goes a long way to preventing carpet moth infestation.
When we go out to treat a carpet moth infestation, we often discover pigeons roosting or nesting on the house. Bird nests are the natural habitat of the carpet moth, where they feed on keratin in bird feathers. Wherever pigeons go, carpet moths follow.
Another way carpet moths get in your house is through second hand rugs, curtains or furniture, especially antiques as they’re more likely to be made from natural materials such as wool or silk.
The rarest but highest risk items are taxidermy, as feathers and fur are the favourite food of carpet moths, making them a particularly damaging pest for museums. It’s worth having any stuffed animals or insect collections treated with insecticides before bringing them into your house.
In their natural habitat, carpet moths can breed one or two generations a year and are dormant in winter. However, in our warm, central-heated homes, they’re active year round, reaching three to four generations which are also larger in size.
Like clothes moths, carpet moths hide in dark spaces such as those beneath furniture, allowing their population to reach devastating levels before you even notice a problem.
Carpet moth eggs are so small you won’t notice them, but their larvae are easily identified due to the case they carry around, which gives them their common name. If you spot a tiny grub wrapped in a woven case dragging itself around, you’ve got carpet moths.
When they’ve had their fill of your belongings, the larvae seal this case at both ends, creating a fuzzy parcel the size of a grain of rice in which they pupate into adult moths.
The adults are dull grey and tiny, with a wingspan of only 15-17mm. Most the time they won’t be flying though: females barely fly at all and males flutter just above the floor – another reason they can go unseen for so long.
While carpet moths and clothes moths are different species, this difference is purely academic when it comes to pest control because both are spread the same way and treated the same way.
They often switch roles as well: clothes moths are just as likely to feed on carpets and carpet moths can feed on clothes. The only reason carpet moths are more common on carpets is because the larvae have to drag their cases around, which is easier on the floor.
If you’ve spotted a carpet moth or have noticed damage to your carpets, you can book a completely free, no-obligation survey from one of our BPCA-certified pest experts.
We’ll identify exactly what pests are causing the damage and tell you what it will cost you to get rid of them.