A reader recently found a larva on a blanket in her closet. She described it as being tan in color, with a black head, and no stripes.
Our reader is not a fan of bugs, and asks us to identify it. Unfortunately, she killed the larva and was not able to send an image. This makes it more difficult to identify the larva found. However, given its color and where it was found, we would guess that this was some kind of clothes moth larvae. The two most common clothes moths found in households are webbing clothes moth larvae, and casemaking moth larvae. Given that this larvae appeared tan in color, we would assume this was a webbing clothes moth larva.
Webbing clothes moths are, as previously stated, one of the most common clothes moths, at least in the United States. When fully grown, webbing clothes moth larvae tend to be about 1/2 an inch in length, and beige in color with silvery wings. It is the larvae of these moths that one should be worried about, because it is in their larval stage that webbing clothes moths do the most damage to the fabrics they feed on. The larvae of these moths are cream in color, and can also reach up to 1/2 an inch in length. According to The University of Kentucky’s Entomology department, whom we refer to often, between 40-50 eggs are laid at a time, so households are definitely prone to infestations of these larvae.
Luckily for our reader, infestations of clothes moths can be battled before the larvae undergo metamorphosis to become moths and lay more eggs. In fact, it can take anywhere between one month and two years for a webbing clothes moth larva to enter their pupal stage (when they build their cocoon). This all depends on their environment; it depends on their proximity to a food source (fabric) and the temperature. The closet that our reader described could possess the qualities of an ideal habitat for a webbing clothes moth larva, so we encourage her to act quickly.
Firstly, in order to spot these larvae, one can look out for many signs, including the larvae themselves, tubes of silk or patches of web which they spin, as well as faecal pellets they leave behind (see image below from the University of Kentucky). Normally, these larvae conceal themselves to feed, and thus one will most likely find them in the folds of the fabric(s) they are infesting, such as the blanket that our reader found hers in. They can also be found in or underneath carpets, in vents, or even in abandoned animal nests (which may be found in attics, if this is applicable to our reader). Secondly, to combat a current infestation of clothes moth larvae, vacuuming infested areas, and laundering infested fabrics should suffice in eliminating larvae and eggs. Thirdly, in order to prevent future infestations, consistent housekeeping should do the trick. Additionally, vacuum sealing clothes that are to be stored, and not worn, can prevent clothes moths from being attracted to those pieces. One can even store items in cold vaults to ensure that no clothes eating insects/worms get to them. This is an especially good idea for storing valuable items of clothing, or other fabrics.
To conclude, the larva that our reader found in in her closet on her blanket is most likely a webbing clothes moth larvae. Infestations can occur and should be handled with haste. We hope that this information and advice can be of use to our reader, and the best of luck to her.