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This species is notorious for feeding on clothing and natural fibers; they have the ability to digest keratin protein in wool and silk. The moths prefer dirty fabric for oviposition and are particularly attracted to carpeting and clothing that contains human sweat or other organic liquids which have been spilled onto them; traces of dirt may provide essential nutrients for larval development. Larvae are attracted to these areas not only for the food but for traces of moisture; they do not require liquid water
This is probably the most common pest of food found in the home. The Indian Meal Moth is often confused with the Webbing Clothes Moth, a fabric pest. Indian Meal Moths affect food product and not fabric. Clothes Moths affect fabric only.
This pest in introduced into a building by being brought in with a food product which is already infested. Although manufacturers attempt to deliver food that is virtually pest free, they do not always succeed.
Another way that this pest may enter food is from a store that has an infestation of this insect. The immature stages of this insect may crawl into other food packages thereby introducing Indian Meal Moth into a home or business.
Females lay eggs in clusters of between 30 and 200 which adhere to surfaces with a gelatin-like glue. These hatch between four and ten days later into near-microscopic white caterpillars which immediately begin to feed. They will also spin mats under which to feed without being readily noticed and from which they will partially emerge at night or under dark conditions to acquire food. Development to the next stage takes place through between five and 45 instars typically over the course of between one month and two years until the pupal stage is reached. At this point, the caterpillars spin cocoons and spend another approximately 10–50 days developing into adults
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Tineola bisselliella, known as the common clothes moth, webbing clothes moth, or simply clothing moth, is a species of fungus moth. It is the type species of its genus Tineola.
The larvae (caterpillars) of this moth are considered a serious pest, as they can derive nourishment from clothing – in particular wool, but many other natural fibers – and also, like most related species, from stored foods, such as grains.
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Both adults and larvae prefer low light conditions. Common clothes moths seem to prefer dim or dark areas. If larvae find themselves in a well-lit room, they will try to relocate under furniture or carpet edges. Handmade rugs are a favorite, because it is easy for the larvae to crawl underneath and do their damage from below.