A reader wrote to us freaked out by a teeny-tiny visitor she found in her house. First, she saw a strange thing on her wall, near the ceiling. It looked like a bit of fluff or debris, but then it moved. She took a picture for us:
Not knowing what this was, she was concerned and sprayed it with wasp spray. At that point, a small larva crawled out of the object on the wall.
She is very concerned, and would like to know what this is.
We have good news and bad news. The good news is that this is a case bearing clothes moth larva. These are completely harmless to her and any pets or children in the house.
The bad news is that, by spraying it with wasp spray, she has likely ruined this creature’s home.
Case bearing moths get their name because their larvae create cases to live inside while they’re getting ready to pupate. These cases help protect their very soft, very fragile, bodies from getting squished or eaten. They build these little cases out of their own silk and whatever debris or bits of stuff happen to be handy. These cases are not part of their bodies, and the larvae are not attached to them. They simply live inside them, and come out to find food. The larvae can poke out on either side of the case. They can also pick up their cases and move them, so if they need to go to a location with more food they can do that. As our reader discovered, they can also leave their cases should that become necessary.
We hope that the larva that was displaced could either use its old case once it dried out, or build a new case. However, it is likely that the loss of the little guy’s case resulted in its death. This is too bad for the larva, but may save some of our reader’s clothes.
Case bearing clothes moth larvae love to eat the natural fibers in our clothes and other soft-goods. As always, the best way to discourage these guys is to remove their food source. It is a good idea to invest in some airtight storage bags or boxes for any important wool or cotton clothing. She should also make a point of eliminating any abandoned spider webs. They are one of these larvae’s favorite foods. If they can’t find food, they’ll leave on their own accord, and take their cases with them.