Bullet Fabric Pests

Like the stored food pests, fabric infesting insects are mostly either moths or beetles. The true fabric insects are unique in their ability to digest an animal protein called keratin that is found in hair and fur, horns, hoofs, and insect bodies.


1. One to several dozen eggs are laid in vicinity of food sources.

2. Larvae feeds on animal matter; insect collections, stuffed animals, woolen carpeting, or just accumulations of pet hair are sought out.

3. Damage does not show evidence of webbing as in moth attack.

4. After several molts, larvae looks for a hidden place to pupate; may be underneath furniture, inside hollow walls or picture frames.

5. The adult emerges with hard shell wing covers and is a good flier; they feed on plant pollen - not animal products.

Black carpet beetle: distinctive appearance; adult has black body with brown legs, 1/8" long, larvae has long hairs trailing from 1/4" long, carrot shaped body.

Varied carpet beetle: adult is oval shaped with mottled white, brown, and yellow scales, 1/16"·long; folded wings come together smooth at the end of the body; larvae is wedge shaped with head at the narrow end of the 3/16" long hairy body; most common species in California.

Common carpet beetle: adult appears similar to varied carpet beetle with orange scales down the middle of the back; larvae is reddish.

Furniture carpet beetle: adult is slightly larger than varied carpet beetle, yellow, white, and black scales with a definite wing cleft; larvae has head at wide end.

Odd beetle: does not resemble the carpet beetles but feeds on similar products, sometimes called the tissue paper bug.

Hide beetles: only occasional invaders of structures.


Clothes moths are very secretive, light shy, and very weak fliers. The flying adults will usually only be noticed fluttering in a closet when the door is opened. Adult clothes moths are very short lived and do not feed. The adults are about 3/8" long and have fringes on the outer edges of the wings. They deposit their soft, white eggs on such items as feathers, furs, woolen clothing, and also insect remains. The eggs hatch in about four days to up to a month in winter. The eggs should not be confused with the hard bun shaped fecal pellets often found on the infested material. The moth larvae need other proteins than what they receive from keratin alone, which is why soiled garments are more attractive than cleaned, protected ones.

WEBBING CLOTHES MOTH : most common, adult's wings are golden buff color and reddish hairs may be noticed on the head; the larvae spins large amounts of silk into feeding mats under which it feeds; webbing will show the fecal pellets.

CASE-MAKING CLOTHES MOTH : adult's wings are brown with three dark spots on each, these spots rub off easily; the larvae spins a silken tube or case around itself in which it remains; the tube contains bits of the surrounding material; the larvae will die if it is removed from the case; in addition to fabrics, the case-maker also feeds on plant products.