Carpet Moths: How to spot them, and what to do!

Tineola bisselliella. (Common Clothes Moth).

Our comprehensive advice is based on many years’ experience with this hard-to-deter carpet munching pest.

common clothes moth

Tineola bisselliella is a small rather scruffy looking buff coloured moth of 6-7 mm body length and 9-16 mm wingspan. Females lay up to 200 microscopic eggs which hatch in about a week and the larvae start feeding straight away. They can take between 1 and 24 months to develop before pupation and a further 10 to 50 days to become fully adult. Both sexes, but especially females, prefer scuttling along surfaces rather than flying. The male, in search of a mate, tends to fly only about 5 metres from base camp. Hence just one of our pheremone ‘Moth Traps’ can cover one large room if well placed.

Seeing is believing.

They like dark and undisturbed conditions for all stages except during mating when they may fleetingly venture into the light. All the damage is done invisibly by the grubs, under rugs, buried in the pile of rugs, under skirting boards, furniture and between floor boards. They eat wool, silk and occasionally other fibres, including horse hair in upholstery.

moth damage in rug
Above: moth damage in flatweave rug.

Evidence of Moth

You can be sure that seeing regular flutters of these persistent insects means they have a banquet going on somewhere not far away, with the main dish likely some prized jumper or rug. Regular hoovering in places you might not bother with normally such as beneath cumbersome pieces of furniture and the underside of your rugs if practical, combined with moth spray and traps will generally halt the invasion.

moth larvae

You will usually only see the grub when an infestation has been disturbed and the grub surfaces to see what’s happening.

Feel the surface of a shelf under any woollen items; if it is gritty with tiny dark granules, this may be the detritus of feeding moth grubs. Inspect the items above it.

moth evidence in carpet

 Above left: moth larvae

Off white silky streaks under rugs, in the pile of rugs, in clothes, especially in hidden undisturbed places, are moth tunnels - they weave a cocoon as shelter as they chew.

Right: moth cocoon in rug

The Nomads Tent offers the following forms of treatment.

  • Pheremone Moth Traps contained in handy paper tents with an active sticky synthetic female pheromone that attracts the male moth to a sticky end. One or two traps per room depending on room size. These repress the breeding cycle and act as indicators of the severity of the problem.
  • Moth Spray useful for carpets, rugs and kilims, clothes, curtains etc. Use on both sides of rugs where possible to have effective protection for about a year or more. Spray behind, under and inside furniture, along skirting boards and over ‘gappy’ floor boards. Avoid pets and gold fish bowls. The spray may be used on clothes in a wardrobe, lightly. Its residue is minimal.
  • Deep Freezing is an option for contaminated objects that can fit in our commercial chest freezer which goes down to minus 28 degrees C. The eggs survive as cold as 23 below.
  • We stock a variety of other moth prevention products in store including natural cedar balls, smoke bombs.
  • The Nomads Tent offers a specialist rug repair service for rugs and carpets that have been damaged by moth. Or for less extreme damage you may want to take advantage of our specialist rug and carpet cleaning service.


    The Nomads Tent offers free advice on all aspects of care of rugs and kilims. We also offer a comprehensive Repair & Cleaning service.