These Collections Care documents have been produced using information from our Conservation Development Officer, Helena, to provide suggested information on Webbing Moths including how to identify and treat them.
If you have been advised by a conservator to provide treatment by freezing your object, our Freezing pest treatment resource will give you a step-by-step guide to safely treat the pests and prevent object damage.
Webbing Clothes Moth
8-10mm (half the width of a 5p coin)
The larvae eat animal protein fibres such as wool, silk, fur and feathers. Occasionally chew through cotton.
Larvae – white caterpillar with an orange-brown head, often hidden in whitish patches of cobweb-like fibres
Adult – pale golden moth with fringed wings which turn up at the back and a fuzzy orange head. Short, fluttering flight.
It’s only a centimetre long, with slim, silky wings that are pale gold, and a mohican tuft of orange hairs on its head. It looks so pretty and so innocent, but it is responsible for a terrifying amount of damage to textiles, costume and even stuffed animals.
Although the Webbing Clothes Moths generally appear in spring, with increasing warmth they can have two life cycles a year and you may see more in the autumn.
If you spot them in the museum, crawling up walls, stuck in traps or fluttering near windows, it is vital that you take action to find out what they have been eating and if you have a colony that is spreading.
Check your pest traps weekly once you have spotted moths and record how many you find in each. This can help you track the source.
Put out more traps especially near entrances that insects could use – they may be feasting on a dead bird in the attic or even surviving on fluff below the floorboards. Use flying insect traps and Demi-Diamond wall traps as well. You can even buy traps with the moth pheromone if you are sure which species you have.
- Housekeeping – Empty bins daily and make sure food residues are cleaned up.
- Have traps in all areas – especially where people hang up coats and bags – they can bring moths in unknowingly.
- Deep clean areas where there may be an infestation – move all boxes, vacuum floors and wipe shelves. You can use a museum-suitable pesticide like Constrain to spray in cracks in walls, floors, under skirting boards but not on objects.
- If you find infested objects – pick off any live pests you find, then isolate the objects by wrapping them in acid-free tissue and then in polythene sheet and sealing ALL the edges with parcel tape. Contact a conservator (or the Conservation Development Officer if your museum is in the South West) for treatment advice, quickly!
Download the below the information sheet on webbing clothes moths and freezing guide below.